Missing Link Booted Off Family Tree

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Remember all the hype about “Ida” – the lemur-like creature that would re-write evolutionary history?  The Pink Flamingo was among those who was not all that excited about the ugly little critter.

“…Darwinius masillae, the primitive primate that was unveiled to the world with huge fanfare and a Sir David Attenborough documentary in May, seems now to have been less of a missing link than an evolutionary dead end. Far from being an ancestor to humans, the lemur-like creature from 47 million years ago belongs to an entirely different branch of the primate family tree that has left no known descendants, research has indicated….”

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The Pink Flamingo revels in being right!

There was way too much hype about this one.  It was like the world was jumping on the band-wagon.

The wheels fell off the wagon.

“...Remember the “fossil that will change everything”? When Darwinius masillae, nicknamed Ida, was revealed to the world back in May, an avalanche of PR hype claimed it as a “missing link” in human evolution. This lemur-like creature, the promotional campaign had it, was an ancestor of us all.

Plenty of doubts were raised about this at the time — including here on this blog — both about Ida’s claim to a place on the human branch of the primate family tree, and the wisdom of producing popular films and books about scientific discoveries that have yet to be published and peer-reviewed. Today has brought a fresh twist.

A second new adapid named Afradapis longicristatus, closely related to Darwinius, is described in Nature by a team led by Erik Seiffert, of Stony Brook University in New York state. And analysis of the two fossils indicates strongly that neither is an anthropoid. Both Darwinius and Afradapis appear to be members of a group more closely related to lemurs and lorises than to monkeys, apes and people, which has left no known modern descendents. The scenario advanced to promote Ida as “the Link” appears to be wrong….”

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