'Eighth wonder' Ida is not related to humans, claim scientists
2009 10 22
By Ian Sample | Guardian.co.uk
Her arrival was announced with unrestrained razzmatazz. She was the "eighth wonder of the world", "our Mona Lisa" and an evolutionary "Rosetta Stone", according to the researchers who unveiled her.
The female in question was Ida, a 47million-year-old primate, whose exquisitely preserved fossil was touted as the remains of our earliest human ancestor. She was, they said, the "link" between us and the rest of the animal kingdom.
Or maybe not. Writing in the journal, Nature, a team of palaeontologists from New York claim that Ida is not related to humans at all. Instead, they conclude, the $1m fossil looks more like a small lemur or maybe a loris.
The challenge is being seen as the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be a hearty academic slugging match. At stake is not only the significance of one of the most extraordinary fossils unearthed, but the reputations of some of the world's leading researchers. So far, relations between the two sides are strained but courteous.
The claimed primate genus and species Darwinius masillae, said to be an ancestor of humans - a claim now in contention by scientists. Credit: PLoS One, Hurum et al.
"Our analysis and results have convinced us that Ida was not an ancestor of monkeys, apes, or humans, and if anything has more relevance for our understanding of lemur and loris origins," said Erik Seiffert, a fossil hunter at Stony Brook University in New York who led the Nature study.
Researchers behind the Ida fossil, known formally as Darwinius masillae, immediately defended their own interpretation, which is based on two years of meticulous measurements of the remains.
"We expected a challenge like this and it's interesting it has taken five months for the first attack to come," said Jørn Hurum, a palaeontologist at Oslo University's Natural History Museum. "What we claim about Ida is really quite controversial."
"Seiffert and his team claim Darwinius didn't have much anatomical detail to study because it is so crushed, but none of the authors have ever seen the original specimen. She's not that crushed, there's a lot of information in the fossil. We really trust and stand by our interpretation," Hurum said.
Hurum bought Ida for $1m after agreeing to meet a private dealer in a vodka bar in Hamburg where he was shown a series of photographs of the fossil. At the time, its exact place in evolutionary history was unclear. What Hurum did know was that Ida came from a time when the primate lineage that led to monkeys, apes and humans split from another group of animals that became lemurs and lorises. Hurum took a gamble. "It would have been quite an expensive lemur," he told the Guardian at the time.
The Ida fossil, which was found in the Messel Pit on the outskirts of Hamburg, was revealed to the public in what amounted to the greatest publicity coup in modern science. The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, appeared alongside the fossil, wearing a T-shirt carrying the TV tie-in logo, "The link." A book about Ida was already coming off the presses.
Ida was an immediate media sensation. The fossil received blanket coverage around the world and newspapers hailed her as the "missing link" between humans and animals. The Guardian even gave away free wallcharts of "humanity's long lost ancestor."
The controversy erupted after Seiffert's team unearthed the fossilised remnants of a similar, but much younger primate in northern Egypt. Analysis of the 37million-year-old lemur-like fossil showed it was a close relative of Ida and had several dental features that are commonly seen in apes and humans.
Seiffert's team fed information from the new fossil and 117 living and extinct primates into a computer model to find out where the new species sat in the tree of life. Writing in Nature, Seiffert explains that while the new fossil, named Afradapis, is related to Ida, both emerged along the evolutionary path that led to lemurs and lorises. Their anatomical similarities with later primates evolved independently from those seen in monkeys, humans and apes, he explained.
"They are trying to explain all of the traits we see in Darwinius in terms of parallel evolution," said Hurum. Parallel evolution is when two groups of animals evolve similar features without being related to one another.
In an email, Philip Gingerich, a leading paleontologist at Princeton University who worked on Ida, said both fossils were almost certainly part of the lineage that led to monkeys, apes and humans. He wrote that it was "puzzling" to see Seiffert's team claim they were related to a group that became lemurs and lorises "with which it shares no resemblance".
Further work by Seiffert's team appears to add insult to injury. According to their study, neither Ida nor Afradapis have any living descendants, meaning they became extinct at the end of a sidebranch of the evolutionary tree.
"This will be part of a discussion that will run for weeks and months to come," Hurum said.
Article from: Guardian.co.uk
Lloyd Pye - The Starchild Skull Update
Lloyd Pye - The Starchild Skull & DNA Revelations (Subscription)
Lloyd Pye - Human Design & Properties of Annunaki Genes (Subscription)
Lloyd Pye - Human Origins, Intervention Theory & Genetic Experimentation
Lloyd Pye and the Starchild Skull on breakfast show in New Zealand (Video)
Michael Cremo - Forbidden Archeology
Michael Cremo - Human Devolution (Subscription)
Robert Bauval - Black Genesis & The Ancient People of Nabta Playa
Marcus Allen - Crystal Skulls, Global Catastrophy, Collective Amnesia & Global Warming (Subscription)
Scientists unravel Neanderthal genome
Researchers may remake Neanderthal DNA
Ancient Human Ancestor 'Ida' Discovered (May 2009)
Why Ida fossil is not the missing link
The palaeontologist who brought fossil Ida to the world
Ida, the fossil that fascinated the world, may miss out on missing link status
How Jørn Hurum sold fossil Ida
Fossil Ida at a glance (video)
A skull that rewrites the history of man
Studies say 'hobbit' previously unknown species
Lloyd Pye - Everything you Know is Wrong (Video)
Latest News from our Front Page
Magaluf bar where British girl was filmed performing sex acts on 24 men is shut down after police investigation into video
2014 07 26
Is this what the youth in Britain and Europe is spending their their energy, money, efforts and innocence on?
The young girl, pictured, was lured into performing multiple sex acts after organisers offered a free drink although she thought a holiday was on offer* Council officials launched an official investigation after the video went viral
Playhouse bar in Magaluf and entertainment ...
Prejudice is a Form of Common Sense - Hard-Wired Into the Human Brain, Says ASU Study
2014 07 26
Contrary to what most people believe, the tendency to be prejudiced is a form of common sense, hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger.
So suggests a new study published by Arizona State University researchers in the May issue of the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," which contends that, ...
The State is a Bully
2014 07 24
In the history of Western philosophy and social theory, no really silly idea has been more successful than the theory of the social contract.
It is in fact not a theory of the social contract. It is a theory of the political contract. It is the idea, promoted by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that, at some point in ...
NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17.
From the U.S. Army in Europe website:
Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria.
A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
|More News » |