'Eighth wonder' Ida is not related to humans, claim scientists
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
Kanye West says in his VMA 2015 speech that he's running for president in 2020
'And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided in 2020 to run for president.'
Kanye West received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at tonight's MTV Video Music Awards, and he closed his acceptance speech by announcing he's running for president in 2020. Yes, really!
The segment started with a bang when West was handed his ...
White students in Australia rejecting "multicultural" agenda, this is a problem apparently
According to Dr Christina Ho from Sydney’s University of Technology, White Students have not obeyed the command to become “multicultural”.
White Students have very rarely mixed with non-White groups, and Dr Ho thinks that this is a problem which must be solved.
“Schools are becoming more segregated in terms of both class and ethnicity,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald. “More and more ...
Sweden: The De-balling of the Vikings
For some reason, the deliberately-injected moral and mental cancer known as 'liberalism', aka 'progressivism' has always seemed to metastasize faster in the Nordic countries, particularly Scandinavian ones. This phenomenon is also observable among the American descendants of Scandinavian immigrants in places like Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The hypothesis of this reporter is that the innate, perhaps even genetic, altruism and human ...
New Monsanto Spray Kills Bugs by Messing With Their Genes
In a fascinating long piece in MIT Technology Review, Antonio Regalado examines the genetically modified seed industry's latest blockbuster app in development—one that has nothing to do with seeds. Instead, it involves the industry's other bread-and-butter product: pesticide sprays. But we're not talking about the poisonous chemicals you convinced your dad to stop dousing the lawn with. The novel sprays ...
Obama to speak with Jewish groups on Iran deal
President Barack Obama is using a Friday webcast to try to allay concerns from Jewish communities about the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Obama will deliver remarks about the agreement and take questions from participants. The webcast is being organized by two major Jewish organizations that have held similar events with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
The Israeli ...
|More News » |