So yeah, it’s a really, really cool fossil, this 47-million-year-old proto primate named “Ida”:
But no, breathless media hype to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s not “the missing link! omg!” Even Google climbs aboard the hype train, courtesy of today’s doodle, linked to search?q=missing+link+found:
Unfortunately, there is evidence that the hypemeisters pushing this meme aren’t just lazy reporters, or bored geeks; it seems that the actual scientists behind the recent Ida paper are part of the problem, with one of them defending their approach thusly, as quoted in the New York Times:
“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”
No, you don’t. That’s what makes it science.
Interesting discussion of what’s actually interesting about Ida:
- Brian Switek: Poor, poor Ida, Or: “Overselling an Adapid”
- PZ Myers: Darwinius masillae
- Carl Zimmer: Darwinius: It delivers a pizza, and it lengthens, and it strengthens, and it finds that slipper that’s been at large under the chaise lounge for several weeks…
Thanks to Ed Yong for the links, which I shamelessly stole from Darwinius changes everything.