The good news: Earlier today I had the pleasure of participating in an interview about “Ida” on the BBC4 program Material World. I was a little nervous (this was my radio debut), but it was a lot of fun. I just wish we had some more time! You can check it out here (if you’re in the UK) and here (if you’re not).
The bad news: Over at the Disco Institute-run Evolution News & Views blog Robert Crowther praises my critique of the Darwinius paper for not “toeing the line” about this fossil being the “missing link.” I would have hoped that Crowther would have learned that science-savvy folks can disagree with hypotheses and some of the most interesting debates are ones involving actual scientific discoveries, but it would appear not.
As Carl Zimmer has recently documented in an excellent bit of detective work, though, much of the hullabaloo about Ida was created by the fact that the paper was not released to journalists until the morning of the fossil’s unveiling. This left many journalists in a bind; how could they accurately appraise a fossil when all they had was the puffed-up press release? This whole affair has been a fiasco and so far I think Ida has taught us more lessons about science communication than about our ancestry.