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Scientists announce the discovery of a 47-million-year-old primate fossil that is set to revolutionize our understanding of human evolution.
May 19, 2009, NEW YORK, NY—Scientists have announced today the discovery of a 47-million-year-old human ancestor. Discovered in the Messel Pit, Germany, the fossil is twentytimes older than most fossils that explain human evolution. Known as “Ida,” the fossil is atransitional species, showing characteristics of the very primitive nonhuman evolutionary line(prosimians, such as lemurs), but even more closely those of the human evolutionary line(anthropoids, such as monkeys, apes, and humans). This places Ida at the very root of anthropoidevolution—when primates were first developing the features that would evolve into our own.The scientists’ findings are published today by PLoS One, the open-access journal of the PublicLibrary of Science.
Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, will publish THE LINK,by Colin Tudge, on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. The book will reveal in full detail the entirestory of the discovery, excavation, and preservation, and the revolutionary significance ofIda. THE LINK begins with a foreword by Norwegian fossil scientist Dr. Jørn Hurum ofthe University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum, who for the past two years has led aninternational team of scientists as they secretly conducted a detailed forensic analysis of theextraordinary fossil, studying the data to decode humankind’s ancient origins. At 95 percent complete, Ida is set to revolutionize our understanding of human evolution.Unlike Lucy and other famous primate fossils found in Africa’s Cradle of Mankind, Ida is aEuropean fossil, preserved in Germany’s Messel Pit, a mile-wide crater whose oil-rich shale is asignificant site for fossils of the Eocene Epoch. Fossil analysis reveals that the prehistoricprimate was a young female. Opposable big toes and nails rather than claws confirm that thefossil is a primate, and the presence of a talus bone in the foot links Ida directly to humans.The fossil also features the complete soft body outline as well as the gut contents. A herbivore,Ida feasted on fruits, seeds, and leaves. X-rays reveal both baby and adult teeth, and the lack of a“toothcomb,” which is an attribute of lemurs. The scientists estimate Ida’s age when she died tobe approximately nine months, and she measured approximately two feet in length.
An interactive, content-rich website about Ida has been launched at http://www.revealingthelink.com/.The full scientific findings from the study are set out in the paper “Complete primate skeletonfrom the middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: morphology and paleobiology,” published byPLoS One, the Public Library of Science’s interactive open-access journal for thecommunication of peer-reviewed scientific and medical research (http://www.plosone.org/).
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Thank you to Anna at Hachette Book Group
GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!
This contest is now closed.