I always knew it was just a matter of time. Eventually the “missing link” would be found, and now it’s believed that the day has come. If it really is the holy grail of evolutionary science, it’s going to have profound implications.
I can just hear the howls of protest now from the creationists. They will insist it’s a hoax, or worse, a conspiracy. The absence of the link has been their slim hope that Darwin was wrong, and now it looks like that’s finally being taken away from them. In case you don’t know the facts behind all this yet, it’s like this:
An almost perfectly intact specimen of an unknown creature was discovered in 1983(!) by a team of amateur fossil hunters inside a mile-wide crater outside of Frankfurt, Germany. The crater it was discovered in is believed to be a volcanic caldera where scores of animals from the Eocene epoch were killed and their remains were kept remarkably well preserved.
The pit has been a major source of fossils over the years, but the inexperienced archaeologists didn’t realize the value of their find. Years after it was found it was bought by the University of Oslo and studied in secret for two years. The researchers who studied the fossil, led by Jørn Hurum of the University of Oslo’s Natural History Museum, nicknamed her “Ida.” It is apparently the remains of a roughly 9-month-old female that probably looked a lot like modern lemurs.
Apes, monkeys and humans all belong to a group called anthropoids. Debate has raged for decades about the origins of this group. It is believed by most that anthropoids likely sprung from either the extinct omomyids or the tarsiers (large-eyed primates with living relatives in Southeast Asia).
Jørn Hurum and his team advocate the minority hypothesis that in fact a third group, adapids, eventually gave rise to monkeys, apes and humans. They argue that Ida, whose scientific name is Darwinius masillae, is an adapid, and has features more closely aligned with anthropoids than with lemurs, which are thought to be adapid descendants.
Already the drums of dissent are being beaten. Fox News couldn’t wait to jump in to the fray, running out to find “experts” willing to deny this is the missing link, even though they haven’t been anywhere near the find. There will be more of the same in the months to come from the superstitious who would love to drag us all kicking and screaming back in to the dark ages of fear and acrimony before reason took hold.
I have no idea if this thing will prove to be what the member of the team in Oslo claim it is, but I for one am willing to keep an open mind and watch this thing unfold. This could be the greatest scientific discovery of the 21st century. Let’s just hope the forces of darkness can’t keep that from being recognized if it is, in fact, true.