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Earth Science

Ancient Fossil Offers Clues To Primate Evolution 311

Posted by Soulskill
from the unless-you're-from-kansas dept.
langelgjm sends in an update to a story we discussed over the weekend about an extremely well-preserved fossil of an ancient primate, Darwinius masillae, that sheds light on an important area of evolution. The 47 million-year-old specimen has now been officially unveiled, and while many media outlets are stumbling over themselves with phrases like "missing link" and "holy grail," it's clearly a very impressive find. "Discovered two years ago, the exquisitely preserved specimen is not a direct ancestor of monkeys and humans, but hints at what such an ancestor might have looked like. According to researchers, 'The specimen has an unusual history: it was privately collected and sold in two parts, with only the lesser part previously known. The second part, which has just come to light, shows the skeleton to be the most complete primate known in the fossil record.' The scientific article describing the find was published yesterday in the peer-reviewed, open-access journal PLoS ONE. Google's home page is also celebrating the find with a unique image." Science blogger Brian Switek offers some criticism of the academic paper and the media swarm, saying, "I would have hoped that this fossil would receive the care and attention it deserves, but for now it looks like a cash cow for the History Channel. Indeed, this association may not have only presented overblown claims to the public, but hindered good science, as well."
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Ancient Fossil Offers Clues To Primate Evolution

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