Another super-cool day at PLoS (one of those days when I wish I was not telecommuting, but sharing in the excitement with the colleagues at the Mothership) – the publication of a very exciting article describing a rarely well-preserved fossil of a prehistoric primate in a lineage to which we all belong as well:
Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology by Jens L. Franzen, Philip D. Gingerich, Jörg Habersetzer, Jørn H. Hurum, Wighart von Koenigswald and B. Holly Smith
The fossil, named Ida (the scientific name is Darwinius masillae, a new genus), was discovered in Messel Pit, Germany and lived around 47 million years ago. The fossil is 95% complete – an incredibly complete fossil for an early primate – and along with the skeleton also contains the outline of the body and the contents of the gut. From such rich information, the scientists were able to deduce that Ida was a herbivorous female of about nine months of age.
[The image is Fig. S6 of the PLoS ONE article, published under the Creative Commons Attribution License; any reuse should cite the authors and journal.]
Unlike lemurs, Darwinius masillae does not have a “toothcomb” and a “grooming claw,” but like primates in the lineage that also contains humans, Ida has opposable big toes, nail-bearing fingers and toes, and a foot bone called the talus bone.
As always, you should rate the article, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about this paper. You can also easily place this article on various social services (CiteULike, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Digg and Mendeley) with just one click. Bex and I will collect all the media and blog coverage and post the links to the best on everyONE blog later this week, and that will be linked from the PLoS ONE homepage as well.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank the PLoS ONE production team who did a tremendous job in getting the paper out in record time. Despite the paper being available for only minutes, the mainstream media has already run with the story. I expect that science bloggers, with their expertise, will provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the paper (and skip the silly “missing link” trope) once they digest the scientific information in the paper.
Here is a snapshot of media/blog coverage of this article:
NYTimes (Media & Advertising section): Seeking a Missing Link, and a Mass Audience
Science Insider: World’s Most Overhyped Science Headline?
Science Insider: World’s Most Overhyped Science Headline, Part 2
Evolving Thoughts: There is no missing link
Neuron Culture: Human Descent from Lemurs? Could be, sortalike
BBC News: Scientists hail stunning fossil
Framing Science: The Link? ‘Going Broad’ with Darwinius masillae
A Blog Around The Clock: Introducing Ida – the great-great-great-great-grandmother (or aunt)
Times Online: Fossil find provides ‘missing link’ in human evolution
BBC videos: ‘Stunning’ fossil find unveiled
Cryptozoology Online: Daily News: Scientists hail stunning fossil
Selling Tomorrows: 47-million-year-old fossil enters 24-hour news cycle
Quick Daily Hits — Politics and Such: ‘Missing Link': Scientists Plan to Use Hype to Sell Faith in Evolution
The Evilutionary Biologist: Missing Link Found?
-Towleroad News-: ‘Missing Link’ in Human Evolution Found, Say Scientists
The Sensuous Curmudgeon: Media Hype About “Darwinius Masillae”
Coffee and Sci(ence): Darwinius masillae
Terra incognita: Darwinius masillae
Providence Daily Dose: Kids, Say Hi to Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandma
Starts With a Bang: A Missing Link Found!
Neurodojo: Roll the bones
Neurodojo: Roll the bones, continued
TimesOnline blogs: The Ida fossil: spectacular or hype?
World international news: Scientists unveil stunning fossil
Evolving Complexity: Darwinius masillae on PLOS 1
Beast ape & the bleeding heart baboons: Most complete fossil primate, Darwinius masillae
it is NOT junk: Unfortunate lack of links in the NY Times
The Intersection: Meet ‘Ida': Our 47 Million Year Old Ancestor
Pro-science: Exciting new primate fossil discovery
RichardDawkins.net: Scientists hail stunning fossil
TED Blog: Darwin validated: Missing link found
Pharyngula: Darwinius masillae
The Daily Nightly: THE MISSING LINK: WORTH THE HYPE?
That Shallow Fellow: Introducing Ida: Major Primate Fossil Find For Evolution, Sketchy Salesmanship
The Observatory, CJR: The Mediacene Age
Framing Science: Darwinius masillae: Is The Hype a Bigger Story than the Science?
Gene Expression: ‘Missing link’ hype & science
The Science Pundit: Meet Ida!
Panda’s Thumb: Darwinius masillae
Coyote Crossing: Darwinius masillae
The Open Source Paleontologist: About That Adapid. . .Or, Hype In the Digital Age
DailyKos: Sarah Palin meet Ida Paleo
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Darwinius changes everything
Evolving Thoughts: No, it’s not an ancestor either (probably)
Tom Paine’s Ghost: Ida – the Missing Link?
Migrations: Darwinius masillae
Why Evolution is True: Paleontology and the media
Who Does John Gregson Think He Is?: #precambrian Oh hai @rabbits
Lancelet: Nice fossil, shame about the name…
A simple prop: Darwninius masillae gets out of control
Woo University: Sweet Ida
Ecographica: Ida and the Jurassic Park Effect
The Loom: Does Darwinius Exist?
Why Evolution Is True: Has the name Darwinius masillae been published? And if so, by who?
Wikipedia: Darwinius masillae
That Shallow Fellow: Putting Ida Fossil in Perspective, Putting Creationists in their Place
The Red Notebook: No, no, no! I said, ‘Let’s SEX up this Darwinius press release!’
The Opinionator: Let’s Not Go Ape Over Ida
Framing Science: Darwinius masillae Among Most Blogged Stories at NY Times
60-Second Science Blog: Hey, hey, we’re the monkey-like primates! The missing link that ignited a media backlash
Ego sum Daniel: The ONE fossil
The Knowledge Emporium: Ida
Greg Laden: Ida the Fossil Primate
Erik Svensson Research Laboratory: ‘Ida': a new triumph for PLoS ONE
Observations of a Nerd: Oh Ida!
Biology in Science Fiction: The Missing Link and other Science Fictions
Kevin Drum: Hiding Ida
Thoughts from Kansas: Secrecy in science
Pharyngula: Creationists freak out over Darwinius
Dispatches from the Culture Wars: The Hollywoodization of Science
NGM Blog Central: Darwinius and the Real Missing Link
The Scientist: Fossil Frenzy
Framing Science: Interview w/ The Scientist on Ida’s Media Strategy
Doc Bushwell’s Chimp Refuge: Creationists react to Darwinius masillae
Hominin Dental Anthropology: Good Old Ida, or Darwinius masillae
Sandwalk: The Darwinius Affair
On Research…: Darwinius exaggeratus . . .
I, Editor: Missing Links
The Primate Diaries: Breaking the Chain
Savage Minds: Ida, Sweet as Apple Cidah, and 47 Million times as old
microecos: Monophyly FAIL
A Developing Passion: Genealogical links from early primates to Moors to you
DinoGoss: The Up Side of Hype
Chinleana: Here we go again: redux
A Primate of Modern Aspect: Is a new adapid a ‘Missing Link’?
Cryptomundo: Missing Link Ida: Media Darling
Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: Ida, our only Darwinius masillae: Are we a lemur’s nephews and neices?
Fish matters: Today’s buzz
Fish matters: Darwinius masillae available
The Loom: Science Held Hostage
The Loom: Darwinius: Named at Last!
Laelaps: Good news and bad news
Laelaps: Getting to know “Ida”