Missing Link Found, Evolution Continues Apace

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Is that Rachel Dratch over on the left? Photo: Getty Images

Scientists are claiming to have found the "missing link," a 47-million-year-old monkey fossil that they're calling Ida. In terms of figuring out human evolution, Ida's a pretty big deal — she's got features from the non-human evolutionary line (like lemurs) but is more related to the human evolutionary line (apes and the like). One of the paleontologists, Jørn Hurum of the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, sums it up: "This is the first link to all humans ... truly a fossil that links world heritage."

Well, that's certainly exciting. But it's not the only massive development today in the Story of Man! Like a protohuman discovering fire, scientists have discovered public relations and marketing. Thus Ida was unveiled today with a media event (complete with an interest-feigning Mayor Bloomberg), which is just the beginning:


But the event, which will coincide with the publishing of a peer-reviewed article about the find, is the first stop in a coordinated, branded media event, orchestrated by the scientists and the History Channel, including a film detailing the secretive two-year study of the fossil, a book release, an exclusive arrangement with ABC News and an elaborate Web site.

“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.”

Personally, we prefer to keep our Jonas Brothers separate from our Beakers and Bunsens, but far be it from us to stand in the way of evolution.

Missing Link Primate Likely to Stir Debate [MSNBC]
The Missing Link...To a Bigger Audience? [NYT]