News of the WeekPaleontology

Celebrity Fossil Primate: Missing Link or Weak Link?

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Science  29 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5931, pp. 1124-1125
DOI: 10.1126/science.324_1124

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A 47-million-year-old fossil primate has been touted as the "missing link" between humans and all other mammals. But many of the leading scientists who study primate evolution don't think Ida lives up to her billing as a human ancestor; most think she's a relative of lemurs instead. After looking at photos and a description of the fossil published in an online paper last week, most researchers think that the skeleton—though stunning—reveals little new information about ancient primates, much less human origins. Some worry that the publicity framing Ida as a human ancestor will backfire as her true identity and lowly origins are revealed.