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"Missing link" found

Posted by: Tedstaff

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Today, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a revolutionary discovery — one that will stand as a milestone for paleontologists and evolutionists everywhere — was announced. Scientists based at the University of Oslo have discovered “Ida,” also known as Darwinius masillae, a 47-million-year-old fossil that has been proclaimed the “missing link” in connecting human skeletal structure to early mammals.

Scientists found Ida in Messel Pit, Germany and soon found out that she is about twenty times older than most fossils related to human evolution. What makes Ida so special is that despite her classification as an early prosimian (lemurs), she has certain undeniable human characteristics such as forward facing eyes and even an opposable thumb.

This is an exciting and validating day for scientists everywhere. Broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough has said: “This little creature is going to show us our connection with all the rest of the mammals.”

Head on over to The Link for pictures, video and more information about Ida and the team of researchers behind her. Also don’t miss what’s up at the open source journal PLoS One to read about the scientists’ findings.

In the mean time, please enjoy these TEDTalks relating to fossils and evolution (be sure to comment and relate them to this recent news!):

Zeresenay Alemseged

Louise Leakey

Jane Goodall

Susan Savage-Rumbaugh

Comments (283)

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  • James Prince commented on May 20 2009

    It is strange that we live in a world where there is absolutely no evidence of evolution in our current time and yet people cling to the theory with resolute tenacity. The world has been waiting for “the missing link” to be found, but actually, if evolution was factual there would have been plenty of evidence all around us to prove it today. Think about it. Why would all evolutionary transition just cease at some point and all “transition species” suddenly disappear? It does not make sense. Also if you look at the complexity of DNA: the fact that it self-replicates, self-corrects and contains overwhelming evidence for massively complex and superior design, which can easily be recognized if compared to what humans have attempted to do in design and code creation. Chances for DNA to spontaneously generate out of mass and energy are roughly 1 in 10^650 – people who choose to believe in these odds have more faith than anybody who believes in a Creator. Evolution is truely a myth.

    • Joseph Thomson commented on May 20 2009

      “Why would all evolutionary transition just cease at some point and all “transition species” suddenly disappear?”

      If you are referring to why there are gaps in the fossil record, this is A) because we haven’t found all fossils yet (and probably never will), and B) because fossilization is relatively rare, so not all “transitional species” will have been documented, so to speak.

      If however you are referring to why we cannot see any distinct lines of transitional species alive today, then you misunderstand how speciation works. A population will breed and exchange DNA, generally homogenising variation within the population, but when part of a population becomes isolated, it will not exchange DNA with the main population, thus it it will experience separate random mutations, leading _eventually_ to the emergence of a separate species.

      If you put all religious pre-conceptions behind you, then this makes perfect sense.

    • John Parathyras commented on May 20 2009

      “No evidence of evolution”? And what do you base this statement on? Ask any scientist in any related field (molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, zoology, anthropology), and I’m afraid they’d strongly disagree with you. I’ll give you a simple example of evolution that you can understand: drug resistant strains of bacteria and viruses. For example, treatment for HIV infection consists of multiple drugs and new drugs constantly have to be developed. Why? Because the virus mutates and evolves in response to treatment (which serves as a form of natural selection). This is evolution of a specie in response to a selective pressure. This is evolution.

      And to invoke a creator to explain something complex (such as the structure of DNA) is illogical. How can you explain the origin of something complex by attributing it to the existence of something even more complex? Who created the creator?

      • Chuck Korringa commented on May 20 2009

        Who created the creator? Sir, you can’t even ask that question!
        Because then I will ask you “where did the stuff come from for the Big Bang?”. Why is there something instead of nothing?
        We both believe by faith. You believe by faith in random chance, life was never MEANT to happen, therefore there can be no purpose to life. I believe in Intelligent Design, which gives me hope and purpose to my life. You have neither of these because evolution is all a chance occurance.

        • Joseph Thomson commented on May 20 2009

          Here is the difference. You say that a creator created the universe, but this creator simply existed, no cause needed (correct me if I am wrong). I say that the universe started with the Big Bang, but that I do not have enough information to comment on what may or may not have caused it.

          Why is there something instead of nothing? You say because a creator created something; I say that I don’t know. I ask you why a creator exists, you say he just does; you ask me why I don’t know, I say that I don’t have enough information to know.

          As for evolution, random chance (mutations) is the driving force behind evolution, but natural selection is just as big a player. What hope and purpose does Intelligent Design give you? Perhaps you are given hope and purpose by your other related religious beliefs (I don’t need religion to give me hope and purpose, but that’s another story), but Intellegent Design by itself give you nothing, other than the knowledge that something created the universe.

        • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

          There isn’t something as opposed to nothing. Something and nothing go together. It wouldn’t make sense to have something without nothing.

          Life was bound to happen, it wasn’t just “random chance” we are a byproduct of our particular environment, just as there are bees where there are flowers, we “go with” an environment such as the Earth. We are symptomatic of it. It’s really not that hard to understand. This isn’t faith, it’s common sense.

      • Jim Johnston commented on May 20 2009

        The problem with your answer is that biological flexibility is limited and regulated in securing homeostasis for other living systems – not in Darwinizing this flexibility. There is a genetic load that limits adaptation and all your examples that you have provide are just proof of these constants. Anything beyond this is nothing more than the state endorse religion of atheism.

        Where is the ACLU on this violation of church and state?

        • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

          Atheism is a belief in the same way that bald is a hair color.

    • joe blow commented on May 20 2009

      James Prince, How very silly and ignorant a comment to make. Evolution is a myth? Did you ever go to college? I take it you may be more interested in going to church. Evolution is undeniable and can be observed and replicated. Evolution is simply a change in gene frequency over time, which is observable in nature…on the planet Earth… where we are currently living. You are arguing the ol’ “irreducible complexity” bit, or the “I dunno” answer. DNA, proteins and amino acids ARE incredible, constructed with supreme complexity and beauty. BUT THAT IS NOT EVIDENCE OF A “CREATOR.” Amino acids do not equal god. WE GET IT. LIFE IS AMAZING. Life is truly astounding and obviously it has taken billions and billions of years to get to this point. But do not assume that because all of this wonder exists, there has to be some sort of supernatural being that blinked it all into existence. If you cannot understand that, then you and all your kind will never have any hope…

      • James Prince commented on May 25 2009

        Hi joe. Well as you are assuming a lot of things in your post above – let’s look at a few of your assumptions: In the first place – I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering. You say Evolution is observable and replicatable – I ask you then, why do you look for the missing link if evolution is an ongoing process which is replicable? If I told you that lots of engineers put in work to perfect a digital camera, you believe it without question, yet if I tell you that even more sophisticated design is evident in the design of the human eye you scoff at the notion. If I told you that the digital camera knew instinctively it would need to take pictures before the engineers put it together, you may frown on that – yet you say the eye evolved exactly in that way. The evidence of engineering involved in constructing the eye is astounding – it is evident, it’s testible, but we can’t replicate it cause it is too complex for us – your arguements are somwhat illogical in my humble opinion.

    • joe blow commented on May 20 2009

      … , there very well could be some type of “god” if you will, that encompasses everything and just always has been since even before the big bang and all time, but this does not equate to being “created” or “intelligently designed,” especially in anyone’s damn image! Know this, evolution is a fact. It is testable, observable, replicable. Intelligent design has no observable, testable, or replicable hypotheses. (actually just watched the documentary “Flock of Dodos,” for my class. entertaining and very poignant. I recommend it)

    • Bert Bril commented on May 20 2009

      James, your first sentence is absolutely untrue. There is an *overwhelming* amount of facts that fit with Evolution. And there is no alternative that has any quality at all (in terms of explaining and predicting). So why do you resist? You just don’t *want* to see it: this is what is called ‘pre-occupation’.

      Ask the people who seek and find oil whether they doubt it. The theory works, around the world, thousands of times *per day*, in every borehole, every oil play they investigate.

  • treecity ven commented on May 20 2009

    Unlike today%u2019s lemurs (as far as scientists know), Ida lacks the %u201Cgrooming claw%u201D and a %u201Ctoothcomb%u201D (a fused row of teeth) In fact, its teeth are more similar to a monkey%u2019s. These are minor differences easily explained by variation within a kind.

    Nothing about this fossil suggests it is anything other than an extinct, lemur-like creature. Its appearance is far from chimpanzee, let alone %u201Capeman%u201D or human.

    A fossil can never show evolution. Fossils are unchanging records of dead organisms. Evolution is an alleged process of change in live organisms. Fossils show %u201Cevolution%u201D only if one presupposes evolution, then uses that presupposed belief to interpret the fossil.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      What is a “kind”? Creationists have identified kinds with everything from species to entire kingdoms. By the narrower definitions, variation to new kinds has occurred. By the broader definitions, we would not expect to see it in historical time.

      Helacyton gartleri shows one example of change that would be hard to call anything other than a change in kind. It is an amoeba-like life form that came from a human (Van Valen and Maoirana 1991; evolved from a carcinoma, it spreads by taking over other laboratory cell cultures).

      Creationists have never hinted at, much less shown, any mechanism that would limit variation. Without such a mechanism, we would expect to see kinds vary over time, becoming more and more different from what they were at a given time in the past.

  • treecity ven commented on May 20 2009

    Let%u2019s first review the facts:

    * The well-preserved fossil (95 percent complete, including fossilized fur and more) is about the size of a raccoon and includes a long tail. It resembles the skeleton of a lemur (a small, tailed, tree-climbing primate). The fossil does not resemble a human skeleton.
    * The fossil was found in two parts by amateur fossil hunters in 1983. It eventually made its way through fossil dealers to the research team.
    * Ida has opposable thumbs, which the ABC News article states are %u201Csimilar to humans%u2019 and unlike those found on other modern mammals%u201D (i.e., implying that opposable thumbs are evidence of evolution). Yet lemurs today have opposable thumbs (like all primates). Likewise, Ida has nails, as do other primates. And the talus bone is described as %u201Cthe same shape as in humans,%u201D despite the fact that there are other differences in the ankle structure.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      FYI, answersingenesis is not a valid source of scientific information. They believe the Earth was created about the same time the Mesopotamians were inventing beer.

  • adolf himler commented on May 20 2009

    consensus is not science…

    acceptance is not science…

    fact is science…

    there have been countless junk science theories through the ages… at one time all the scientists believe the earth was flat… more recently, the most brilliant scientists in the world, after countless studies, lab tests etc. confirmed that “aryan” blood was pure and was superior to jewish blood and all other types of blood, making them a superior race…

    the facts are that any group with an agenda will use any tactic, including the misleading tactics being used by this group, to further their cause… true scientist only believe in facts…. this is a marketing scheme….

    • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

      Word… any idea, which is THE TRUTH and is disseminated through massive propaganda (like this article – charged words like “VALIDATED” – “FOUND”) sorry, I’m suspicious. Something’s missing. And it ain’t a “link”, it’s many of them. This is exactly how the priests indoctrinated our ancestors with religion. The new high priests wear white coats not black dresses and bit by bit dictate the new mandates (which can’t be disputed, they’re science, right?) and bit by bit massive changes are implemented in society, but they’re new discoveries, right? We’re just evolving blindly more and more, right? Well I don’t buy this exoteric reality which is lobbied to us by fraternities and think tanks anymore. I don’t know about superior types, maybe there is some inevitable eugenical advance to make – all I know is to tell you to wake up people it’s time to re-learn your HIS-tory. We are entering into a very sophisticated era of global scientific socialism – listen to the lectures of Aldous Huxley &c.

  • John Parathyras commented on May 20 2009

    Thank you. Perhaps I should have expanded on what I mean by “ignorant and uninformed”, which is perhaps not the best choice of words. I’m not really referring to those people who are purely just ignorant of or uninformed about evolution by natural selection and how it really works. I’m referring specifically to those people who are often educated and/or have access to the information but, due to wilfull ignorance or more often religious views, choose to dismiss evolution as incorrect and implausible (as one previous reader who left a comment referring to a quote by Darwin concerning the concept of irreducible complexity, which I’m afraid he has misinterpreted). This group of people (which unfortunately often includes some otherwise well-educated and informed politicians) are the ones who dispute what is by and large an accepted scientific fact, and for whom no amount of scientific evidence will convince otherwise.

    • Chuck Korringa commented on May 20 2009

      There is no misinterpretation of irreducible complexity by Darwin, because he did not propose it.
      Irreducible complexity was written in a book by Michael Behe in 1996 called “Darwin’s Black Box”. Behe’s definition of “irreducible complexity” is: A single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

      An example is the mouse trap. Remove any ONE component and the system fails. Remove the wood, or the spring, or a staple or the dinner plate and the system fails.

  • Bruce Esposito commented on May 20 2009

    While this is an interesting find, doesn’t anyone see that this is more about marketing and commercialization of the find than true science? This is being so sensationalized.

    For example: It is being marketed as “”they may have found the first ever link to human beings””.

    Does this mean that there do not exist any links in the fossil record up until this one to humans? We have been taught for 100 years that the fossil record is full of “links” and that evolution is an established scientific fact. If this is true then doesn’t this find just “add” to the existing wealth of “evidence” we already have?

    So which is this? An exaggeration of an already established “fact” or a reality check that this is the “evidence” that we have not had but have been told we do have?

    It is this kind of sensationalism that continues to make me skeptical of the scientific community that continues to tell me that either global warming or a giant asteroid is going to make life on earth extinct. Also on TV.

  • John Parathyras commented on May 20 2009

    Although I disagree with most of the above comments by fellow readers, I do agree that the heading is perhaps puzzling. I’ve never thought that evolution needs further validation, as it is accepted as fact by the VAST (i.e. 99.9%) of all scientists (myself included – I’m trained in molecular biology and genetics).

    The only people for whom it needs validation are the ignorant and uninformed, and in terms of these folk, no amount of fossils will ever validate Darwin’s theory. And the use of the word “theory” in reference to evolution is scientific nomenclature, it in no way implies that there is doubt regarding its validity. Everything in science is a “theory”, as science never closes the book on something and rules it as “fact”. The theory of gravity is also a “theory”, but I think few would dispute that gravity exists. And so it is with evolution. Evolution is as close to a scientific certainty as it can get.

    • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

      Xclnt comment John, I agree with it – except that being one of the uneducated masses I’ve no idea about paleontology biology &c. so I’ve no choice but to rest on the findings of ‘experts’ which like you say are never final. What’s more interesting to me is behaviour and the origin of conviction and intelligence. History, for example. We (i.e. thinking people) all are generally suspicious that most of it’s a lie as, like religion, it has been composed and modified in order to programme the mass toward a certain pattern of behaviour. This in itself is an ancient science. Evolution as we know goes much further back than Darwin, furthermore, he, his father & grandfather were freemasons and eugenecists (Charles married his mother’s sister and had 10 children, some of which didn’t turn out quite right). There is a lot of Darwinian propaganda here in London at the moment – makes me suspicious. Not as to the science but as to why it’s so important for people to have conviction in it…

      • Momo Momo commented on May 20 2009

        Adam, if you are one of the “uneducated masses,” how can you be sure John is telling you the truth? To accept what he says without researching it is not the scientific way. John himself is no scientist and relies only on information he gleans from his personal feelings and experience and he does not put forth backing to any of his statements. He does not express opinion, but makes blanket factual statements without evidence. Don’t be gullible or quick to agree that he even knows what he’s talking about. Question everything, especially those who would proclaim to know more than you do.

    • Chuck Korringa commented on May 20 2009

      I suspect John is referring to me as the ignorant and uniformed. Yet the lack of a chain of evidence is sufficient to convince him that evolution is a fact. Then by his logic we are both ignorant and uniformed as to the reality of this world because of the lack of a chain of evidence. Or would he say the lack of evidence confirms his position; that would be a strange place to be.
      Again Charles Darwin wrote, “The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graded organic chain: and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

      Mr. Darwin himself question the chain of evidence. Even with all the research and discoveries since Darwin’s time, I believe Darwin himself would doubt his theory.

      • Momo Momo commented on May 20 2009

        Chuck, John stated this: “The only people for whom it needs validation are the ignorant and uninformed, and in terms of these folk, no amount of fossils will ever validate Darwin’s theory.” He stated this because he can not prove macro evolution with scientific evidence and so he needs to make sure that he puts other people down and throws a shadow on their own research or expertise. This is a classic smokescreen tactic. He uses absolutes “the only people” and insists on his own assertions that oh EVERYONE with a brain agrees with him. I don’t believe you can get much more UNscientific than he has. Of course he will blurt out, “I don’t need evidence, I’m positive of this fact! I have al the evidence I need and anyone who doesn’t is just plain SCHTOOPID!” Again, not scientific. I don’t think John would understand science if it came up and bit him in the ass. There is always room for more questioning, more searching, more possibilities.

        • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

          Again somebody must point out that there is overwhelming evidence to support the theory of evolution, and every scientific discovery that relates to evolution only further supports it. A good scientific theory is a model for making accurate predictions and with the discovery of DNA we have seen how prophetic this theory really is. All the evidence points to one thing, evolution. The only reason people deny it is because of RELIGIOUS beliefs, not because they have looked at the facts and followed these facts to their most logical conclusion.

    • Chuck Korringa commented on May 20 2009

      As far as “theory” goes, it can be called a law when we can consistently reach into realty and consistently predict an outcome. Such as gravity, inertia and thermal dynamics. There is no consistency and predictability with evolution and there may never well be.

      Then we can discuss irreducible complexity. Without one component the entire structures falls. Which occurred first, digestion or blood clotting? Without either one an animal would die. Or did they evolve at the same instant along with all other necessary body functions?

      • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

        “There is no consistency and predictability with evolution and there may never well be.”

        Evolution has been the basis of many predictions. For example:

        * Darwin predicted, based on homologies with African apes, that human ancestors arose in Africa. That prediction has been supported by fossil and genetic evidence (Ingman et al. 2000).
        * Theory predicted that organisms in heterogeneous and rapidly changing environments should have higher mutation rates. This has been found in the case of bacteria infecting the lungs of chronic cystic fibrosis patients (Oliver et al. 2000).
        * Predator-prey dynamics are altered in predictable ways by evolution of the prey (Yoshida et al. 2003).
        * Ernst Mayr predicted in 1954 that speciation should be accompanied with faster genetic evolution. A phylogenetic analysis has supported this prediction (Webster et al. 2003).
        * Several authors predicted characteristics of the ancestor of craniates. On the basis of a detailed study, they foun

    • Momo Momo commented on May 20 2009

      John P, self proclaimed “scientist” writes, “I’ve never thought that evolution needs further validation, as it is accepted as fact by the VAST (i.e. 99.9%) of all scientists (myself included – I’m trained in molecular biology and genetics).”

      A real scientist would never make such a statement; he or she could only rely on the FACTS and would have to then produce evidence that exactly 99.9% of ALL scientists agree that evolution needs no further validation.

      Anyone could pull a number out of their ass and insist it’s true. Scientists don’t do that. They take the time to examine the evidence and make a statement based on that evidence. Not based on their own personal feelings or wishes or hopes or beliefs or even their own personal experience. It is hard to believe this particular “scientist” named John Parathyras actually conducted research to prove his statement. If he’s a scientist, I’m the Queen of England.

      • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

        His statement is based on the evidence. MOUNTAINS upon MOUNTAINS of it.

    • Momo Momo commented on May 20 2009

      ” Everything in science is a “theory”, as science never closes the book on something and rules it as “fact”. The theory of gravity is also a “theory”, but I think few would dispute that gravity exists. And so it is with evolution. Evolution is as close to a scientific certainty as it can get.”

      Which means that gravity and evolution are both open to debate since neither can be proven. So why don’t you stop pretending that you have an answer that no one has and allow people to keep searching. The fact that you are so blindsided and in a dither because anyone dares disagree with you makes me wonder. How DARE anyone not say gravity is a fact? Oh well, but it can’t be proven. Make up your mind, John. Either you accept that some people will continue searching and are no more “uninformed/uneducated” than you are, or you agree that gravity can’t be proven therefore you’re in the wrong to attack others for continuing their research. WHat is it about research that frightens you so?

  • Bryan Perkins commented on May 20 2009

    Don’t listen to the hype. Read the article for yourself at: “http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005723″ then decide what you think about it.

  • Fran MacGowan commented on May 20 2009

    ‘A valdiating day for scientists’? ‘Darwin validated’? What’s with all this trimphalist nonsense? This article reads like it was written by the smarmy kid in class back when we were all at school. You know, the one who always got real hacked off whenever anybody else answered one of the tecacher’s questions and was really pleased when you got one wrong because it all went to show just how smart he was. Most of us believed Darwin long before this thing was found, even the mainstream churches; he didn’t need any validation. As for scientists, the only ones who did need validation are the ones who used to be the smarmy kids but grew up and went into science. Can we have some grown up comment, please?

  • 2sw2r bangoo commented on May 20 2009

    To my scientific mind Darwin’s Theory is still a theory. Until more evidence can be produced, the “fact of evolution” is unfounded and therefore premature. This may well be a very unpopular stand but that doesn’t change the reality that evolution is far from being proved. %u0645%u0633%u0644%u0633%u0644%u0627%u062A

    • Bert Bril commented on May 20 2009

      You should really get acquainted with the philosophy of science. Theories can never be ‘proven’. You can only prove things in closed logical systems (and even then you can be in trouble cf Godel). Thus, your stance is not valid. If you want to dismiss Evolution theory, you have to come up with something that performs better in terms of results – predictions, explanations. At this point in time, there is nothing that comes close.

      • stephen carnagua commented on May 20 2009

        You don’t have to prove something better: all you have to do is disprove evolution.

        • Bert Bril commented on May 20 2009

          That’s right. Popper. But in practice, things work even differently. The evidence in favor of Evolution is so strong that if you’d find anything, you’d try to fit in a ‘special case’. That’s because there isn’t any theory even beginning to have the power of Evolution. And I’d say: so go ahead. Tell me what ‘disproves’ Universal Darwinism: ‘If you have Variation, Selection and Heredity you MUST get evolution’.

          We’re getting off-topic. I agree that this missing link is not the ‘proof’ that Darwinism is right. The vast amount of facts that support Darwinism is what we go by.

  • Matthias Daues commented on May 20 2009

    I am very much fond of TED and find the collected talks a constant source of inspiration, spreading them whenever possible.

    This said I must comment, as some already have, that this article is less than fortunate. The sloppiness of the fact-checking is only equalled by the delusionally sensationalistic bravado it accomplishes to conjure up in its few lines. Why must this be? It does not align with what I have come to understand as the spirit of TED in most of the talks, especially on matters paleontological or evolutionary: Civility, rationality, thoroughness, enchanting delivery. Their comment sections notwithstanding abound with abusive arguments on creationism and evolutionary theory, with often rantingly aggressive lashings from every side of this perceived divide.

    TED(-Blog) as a platform should lead, foster and educate towards a more and more productive discourse by impeccable examples of good manners and good style.

    This article, alas, isn’t.

    Kind regards,

    Matthias Daues

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      Matt, it is unfortunate that there is not a civil discourse to be had on this topic, but this is ONLY because it touches on people’s purely religious sensitivities. If people didn’t hold irrational beliefs about life and the universe and cling to them, even in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a more fruitful discussion could take place.

      It seems to me that “God’s enemies” are much more honest than his friends.

      http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/God%27s_enemies_are_more_honest_than_his_friends

      • Bradley Monk commented on Jun 4 2009

        Christopher, I am not religious at all. I, in fact work in a neuroscience research lab, and am familiar with the principles of evolution. Nothing in biological-science is more an edifying discovery – for etiological origins to cellular biochemical functioning.

        However, I still think that this discovery has been lionized to the point of making the most bold statement an anthropologist or archeologist could make… “We found the missing link”

        It’s a tough thing, I know, to fight off the (tiring) opinions of the non-secular masses; but, even when it comes from a PhD, you still gotta call BS when you see it (IMHO). Let’s just say, they have yet to convince me.

        • Chris Cecil commented on Jun 4 2009

          Bradley, there is a reason they put %u201Cmissing link%u201D in quotes. It%u2019s a significant finding as it illustrates the transition from primitive, lemur-like primates to more %u2018human-like%u2019 primates (ie. monkeys with forward facing eyes , better suited for depth perception).

          This in itself is a great finding. The problem is that its heralded as %u201Cthat fossil evolution was waiting for%u201D by mainstream media publications, as if evolution is FINALLY substantiated. Paleontologists react to this with a certain indignant demeanor, noting the silliness of this gesture, and anti-evolutionists use this %u201Cdisagreement%u201D to once again mislead their flock with yet another straw man argument.

  • Chuck Korringa commented on May 20 2009

    So how does this fossil link fit in the evolutionary chain? A “missing link” should be placed in a sequence, otherwise it’s a random piece. Did apes suddenly become smaller and grow tails and suddenly become larger and loose their tails to become humans? It may have human characteristics, but doesn’t fit a sequence.

    Where are the thousands and thousands of fossils of other morphological changes necessary to change from early prosimian to a human?

    Charles Darwin wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” We don’t have “numerous, successive, slight modifications”.

    To my scientific mind Darwin’s Theory is still a theory. Until more evidence can be produced, the “fact of evolution” is unfounded and therefore premature. This may well be a very unpopular stand but that doesn’t change the reality that evolution is far from being proved.

    • Andrew Hoover commented on May 20 2009

      Chuck, it fits the evolutionary chain like this. Around 55 Million years sgo, the frist primates emerged. This does not mean, large, deveolped primates, such as common day gorillas and the like. But small, tree-hoping, lemur-like primates. The gap is between these primates and early hominids. What Ida shows us, is the piece of the gap between 55 million years and 45-47 million years ago. What we can now say is there is a “trend” that we believe leads to early hominids. “Numerous, Succesvie, slight modifications” caused early small monkeys, to evolve into higly intelligent, capable beings, such as yourself.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      I suppose since gravitation is “just a theory” you don’t believe that either?

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

    • Tim Black commented on May 20 2009

      You don’t seem to understand what a theory is. Theories in science are not the same as a theory in everyday laymen contexts. In hard sciences (I’m not entirely sure about the social sciences.) A theory is a construct, a working model, that explains all evidence, and until you or someone else con posit a model that fits the successive lineage from this Darwinius Masillae to Australopithecus Afarensis to Homo Habilis to Homo Erectus and finaly to homo Sapien more accurately than the evolutionary model, we can all assume that the theory of evolution is the most accurate model that we have for the appearances of new species. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but it’s the closest thing to perfect that we’ve got.

  • Christopher Chang commented on May 20 2009

    Is this really a ‘missing link’ or is this just another plain species of monkeys that have gone extinct? What proof do they have of it being 46 million years old? Maybe we’re all just too naive and believe whatever scientists claim because they’re suppose to be ‘educated’ and ‘know’ things. Also, I agree with a part of what Zen Faulkes had to say. He said, “The “Darwin validated” headline makes it sound like evolutionary biologists were waiting for this one fossil to prove that evolution is true — which is not the case. ” The words “Darwin validated” makes it sound like they’ve been waiting a long time for just this fossil to show up so that the Darwinists could laugh and say, “We were a part of the animal kingdom afterall! We’re nothing but animals that have evolved over millions and billions of years!” Shouldn’t the other aspects be considered? What if that fossil is nothing but a fake, just like all the hoaxs that were suppose to support evolution from the past? Think about it.

    • Sarmad Hassan commented on May 20 2009

      I really agree to what you said except for fossil being a hoax. It might be exaggeration on scientists’ part, but it cannot be something like a myth.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      You’re right, they should have said “Darwin validated even further.”

  • Jason Sosebee commented on May 20 2009

    Wow! What a terrible headline. This discovery helps to support evolution, not validate it. I would also like to add that this discovery helps to support the existence of God, the creator of evolution.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      Wow, that was a non-sequitur.

    • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

      Ok Jase, then who created God? and since God wasn’t observed before humans invented it did it exist beforehand? AAAH it’s too Schrodinger-esque for me.

  • Susan Martin commented on May 20 2009

    Key words like “Darwin” and “Missing Link” really prime the hype pump and bring the nutters out of the woodwork. Surely sane debate and rational science occur sans hype, so other agendas must be being served. Enjoy the circus.

  • Michael Joe commented on May 20 2009

    The fossil discovery is fascinating but calling it a missing link or ‘darwin validated’ is very premature. There is plenty of evidence to be collected before a solid statement can be made.

    All that hula balo makes me feel that the book and the documentary is more important to them.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      Darwins theory is further validated with every new scientific discovery. Every fossil = darwin validated. DNA = darwin validated. etc.

  • anette akselsen commented on May 19 2009

    The timing is eerie. I have just today been learning about NASA’s Project Bluebeam. All part of the NWO,. Phase 1 is a major archaelogical find that shakes the foundations of religion. My whole life I have been a staunch Darwinist, but after researching The New World Order and Project Bluebeam, I am not so sure…. check it out for yuorselves

    • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

      Nice to see someone’s woken up here. Of course the majority (not discounting myself) do or have just lead lives blindly -after all we did not ‘evolve’ for a physical, psychological or paradigmatic attack such as the new world order. We developed for more semi-gregarious and simple existence. However a minority of us seems to think it’s necessary to create an affluent society so that we all get drugged up, have sex are comfortable with life (it is wonderful after all) then amalgamate a global financial governance dictatorship which Aldous Huxley LITERALLY called “the final revolution” while we aren’t looking. You have to actually make a concerted effort not to realise what’s happening. Most people just refuse to talk about it but it’s been in the open for hundreds of years and is totally blatant for the last ten or so. Darwinism is essential for the global GATtaCa-type world of cybernetics and humans bred-for purpose. Evil or inEVItabLe? Who knows but as always the mass will be lead.

    • Erin Eimutis commented on May 20 2009

      Interesting mention of the NWO Annette -good call. The language they use to describe this “discovery” does seem a bit like propaganda. Darwin “validated”? As if evolutionary THEORY has been proven? Humans to lemurs is a ridiculous stretch. Hasn’t anybody heard of parallel evolution? Just because birds and bats have wings doesn’t mean they came from a common point of origin. Organisms evolve similar traits through completely independent, separate mechanisms when in the same environments or experiencing the same evolutionary ‘pressures’. Like birds and bats both evolved wings for the same purpose -flying- but those wings did not diverge from a common point of origin. Its just absurd and completely irresponsible for this to be proclaimed as a missing link. As a scientist trained in molecular genetics, I’d like to see some genetic analysis before they make those kind of claims. Of course in a 47-million y.o. fossil thats not possible. How convenient.

    • Sara M commented on May 20 2009

      Seems a bit suspicious. I think it’s bull. =]

      • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

        Which is bull, the comment you’re replying to or the article …or all?

      • Fakeer Commentary commented on May 20 2009

        It’s not a bull it’s a lemur. You have read the article heh

    • Michael Anderson commented on May 20 2009

      Oh goody, backwoods religion AND conspiracy nutjobs. My first and last day on TED might be the same thing at this rate.

      • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

        Err… hello? history is nothing BUT a series of cons-piracy-es. CON is the ancient word for priest, it’s also shared in the root with KING (con, caan, [rulers are made with cane] king). Religion is simply occulted physical and astrological phenomena. Agriculture, human nature personified etc. Do you think that those who hold power secretly behind the scenes (and I can recommend a whole library which will actually tell you this) are going to tell us, the filthy mass the whole truth? HA! Evolutionism, Creationism – it’s the same old dialectic. And both sides are incomplete. But if you are referring to the NWO being a theory, err – have you read Gordon Brownie’s speech to the [Lord] Mayor, May 2007? Clinton and Bush’s use of the term? Reagan’s NWO speech 11TH SEPT 1991? Not to mention HG Wells wrote a book with the title (He also wrote a book called ‘The Open Conspiracy’ as he was a propagandist for the Fabian Society). Stay asleep if you want of course, Mr. Andre[man]son [ie.son of man]

        • Michael Anderson commented on May 20 2009

          You need help, son. Your problem is called paranoid schizophrenia, and the fact that you can still type semi-legibly indicates you may not be too far gone for that help. Meanwhile read this and see if you can figure out how many you used in your response: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/.

          By the way, my name comes from an old Scots name meaning “Son of the Servant of St. Andrew” – but then, I’m arguing with a loony, makes me shake my head the way I waste my time some days. :)

        • Tim Black commented on May 20 2009

          Man, that sounds about as ridiculous as saying that Christians unknowingly worship a sun god because the word sun is pronounced the same as “son” in the English language.

      • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

        I didn’t mean to turn this into an argument and I still don’t so I’m not going to retort with accusations as I don’t know you but yes – we must laugh at how we use our time : ) I’m not ‘schizophrenic’ I’m a creative (there’s a fine line sometimes!) and what I write can be taken with a pinch of salt. We all have a different experience and different view of life – it’s our individualism which makes life. That’s why I’m not a fan of the Darwin’s or the Huxley’s who dreamed of eradicating the lower classes and creating genetically fit-for-purpose humans. Just read “Brave New World Revisited” (1958) or CG Darwin’s “The Next Million Years” (1953) Also Sir Julian Sorrel Huxley’s UNESCO manifesto is an interesting read. Also looking into the history of the RIIA and the Fabian society, and reading the works of Carrol Quigley. Learning about how the world really works is very interesting.

        Btw, the name Andrew also comes from the greek word for ‘man’. Not sure where the root of the greek word is

        • Michael Anderson commented on May 20 2009

          Much nicer; but I am creative too (writer and musician) and have never seen creativity and rational skepticism as mutually exclusive. Imagining that you have the line on how the world “really works” is a terribly dangerous path that can lead to the nuthouse or murder and mayhem, as history has shown us again and again. Tread carefully Adam.

    • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

      Nice conspiracy theory. I guess if you believe that snakes and donkeys can talk you’ll believe in anything.

      • Adam Mason commented on May 20 2009

        …Eeeeeh?

        • Christopher Perry commented on May 22 2009

          Come on Adam, the Bible reference is pretty obvious.

  • Wouter Donders commented on May 19 2009

    @Zen Faulkes: I don’t think it was intended to mean evolution, but a particular notion within that theory that Darwin predicted: the existence of these missing links between “ordinary animals” and humans – that we as humans are indeed part of the animal kingdom. There simply weren’t fossils that supported that notion in Darwin’s time. Now there is. Of course, even without this particular bit of empirical evidence, that idea is vindicated through evolution and genetics.

    • Christopher Chang commented on May 20 2009

      There weren’t any fossils that supported that notion in Darwin’s time. There isn’t any today either. Ever heard of the Java man? All the scientists were found were a human (or possibly an animal’s) skullcap, a couple of bones and teeth. The Nebraska man? All the scientists found was an extinct pig’s tooth for goodness sake. The Piltdown man? They found a human skull, chimpanzee’s tooth and an orangutan’s jaw. They put it together and said, ” WE HAVE THE MISSING LINK!” How serious can you get? This fossil, supposedly the ‘missing link,’ is probably nothing more than an extinct type of monkey. Just wait a while and the truth will be out.

      • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

        The tooth was never held in high regard by scientists. Osborn, who described it, was unsure whether it came from a hominid or from another kind of ape, and others were skeptical that it even belonged to a primate. The illustration was done for a popular publication and was clearly labeled as highly imaginative.

        Nebraska Man is an example of science working well. An intriguing discovery was made that could have important implications. The discoverer announced the discovery and sent casts of it to several other experts. Scientists were initially skeptical. More evidence was gathered, ultimately showing that the initial interpretation was wrong. Finally, a retraction was prominently published.

      • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

        One hoax cannot indicate the inferiority of conventional archeology, because creationists have several of their own, including Paluxy footprints, the Calaveras skull, Moab and Malachite Man, and others. More telling is how people deal with these hoaxes. When Piltdown was exposed, it stopped being used as evidence. The creationist hoaxes, however, can still be found cited as if they were real. Piltdown has been over and done with for decades, but the dishonesty of creationist hoaxes continues.

      • Christopher Perry commented on May 20 2009

        Can you please tell us, which of these are human and which are ape?

        http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/images/hominids2.jpg

  • Zen Faulkes commented on May 19 2009

    The “Darwin validated” headline makes it sound like evolutionary biologists were waiting for this one fossil to prove that evolution is true — which is not the case. Darwinius masillae is just one pebble being added to a mountain of evidence validating Darwin. (Admittedly, it’s a truly lovely pebble; this is a gorgeous fossil.)

    Likewise, calling a fossil “THE missing link” is simple-minded at best. It implies that there was only ONE gap in our knowledge about human evolution.

    Surely this discovery can be described in terms that are a little less Victorian.

  • PLoS ONE commented on May 19 2009

    The scientific article on which this story is based is available to read for free, in the peer-reviewed Open Access journal, PLoS ONE, at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005723

    • bill rogers commented on Sep 20 2011

      No offense to the author. But I think I don’t believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. There’s no such thing as Darwinius masillae to connect to humans. Anyway, want your home irrigation system be managed? Get a peep in our website Arlintong Irrigation VA for info.

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