Tuesday May 19, 2009 - Evolution's "Missing Link" Revealed

Taken from Herald Sun:

German bones to reveal evolution's 'missing link'

A FOSSILISED skeleton that may be a vital missing link in human evolution will be revealed in a BBC documentary.

The 90-minute program, to be presented by Sir David Attenborough, is top-secret.

But sources in the US say the research on which it is based will be revealed by scientists in New York on May 19.

The centrepiece of the program is the unveiling of the first complete skeleton of an extinct animal called an adapid.

The fossilised bones, which are thought to be between 37 and 47 million years old, were found in Germany's Messel Shale Pit, an old quarry near Frankfurt famous for fossils.

The team who examined the young female animal say it has some resemblance to a lemur, a mammal with a distinctive tail found in Madagascar.

Controversially, they have concluded the fossil is not simply a lemur but from a related group of primates, which evolved into monkeys, apes and human beings.

The BBC program is based on a study to be published by the academic journal, Public Library of Science.

Yesterday, the study's co-author, Philip Gingerich, said: "I examined this skeleton. It is exceptionally complete and it is well dated.

"We have kept it under wraps because you can't go on about something until you understand it. We now understand it. It is going to advance our knowledge of evolution."

Prof Gingerich confirmed he had spoken to Sir David.

The significance of the discovery is that it could resolve the fierce debate about which kind of primates humans are descended from.

Some palaeontologists believe we evolved from adapids but that theory is hotly contested.

The new skeleton appears to be a previously unknown type of adapid which would be the missing link between small mammals and apes that evolved into humans.

When asked about the BBC documentary, Sir David said: "I'm afraid I am not allowed to talk about it."

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The "missing link" between small animals and the apes that eventually became man has long been one of creationist's favorite fall-backs when they try to dispute the legitimacy of evolution. I'm curious to see what they'll have to say when that argument is shattered by this discovery. Will they claim that God planted the evidence to challenge people's faith? Or perhaps it will all be a vast Atheist conspiracy to undermine creationists? Because, as Ben Stein has claimed, scientists around the world are all involved in a conspiracy to destroy religion.

You're right Ben. The conspiracy is called "Science."

Views: 16

Comment by Stephen Fisher on May 13, 2009 at 4:03pm
Damn.. i don't have cable. Hopefully there will be a BBC stream..
Comment by James on May 13, 2009 at 9:39pm
Awesome news! I can't wait to see what this is all about.

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