Re: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Tue May 19 2009 - 12:52:01 EDT

Now if the report is true , then we have another transitional fossil.
However I never jump to conclusion with press reports as you cannot rely on
them and recently in Britain science journalists admitted that they sexed up
reports to make them more readable.

Anyway one more plus mark to Charlie after 150 years.

Now if the fossil had been found in 10000 year old glacial till or in the
Cambrian then "evolution" would be wrong
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
To: "AmericanScientificAffiliation" <>
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 3:32 PM
Subject: [asa] Fossil Discovery Is Heralded

MAY 15, 2009

Fossil Discovery Is Heralded


In what could prove to be a landmark discovery, a leading paleontologist
said scientists have dug up the 47 million-year-old fossil of an ancient
primate whose features suggest it could be the common ancestor of all later
monkeys, apes and humans.
Anthropologists have long believed that humans evolved from ancient ape-like
ancestors. Some 50 million years ago, two ape-like groups walked the Earth.
One is known as the tarsidae, a precursor of the tarsier, a tiny, large-eyed
creature that lives in Asia. Another group is known as the adapidae, a
precursor of today's lemurs in Madagascar.
Based on previously limited fossil evidence, one big debate had been whether
the tarsidae or adapidae group gave rise to monkeys, apes and humans. The
latest discovery bolsters the less common position that our ancient ape-like
ancestor was an adapid, the believed precursor of lemurs.
 AP Photo/Karen Tam A fossil discovery suggests humans may be descended from
an animal that resembles present-day lemurs like this one.
Philip Gingerich, president-elect of the Paleontological Society in the
U.S., has co-written a paper that will detail next week the latest fossil
discovery in Public Library of Science, a peer-reviewed, online journal.
"This discovery brings a forgotten group into focus as a possible ancestor
of higher primates," Mr. Gingerich, a professor of paleontology at the
University of Michigan, said in an interview.
The discovery has little bearing on a separate paleontological debate
centering on the identity of a common ancestor of chimps and humans, which
could have lived about six million years ago and still hasn't been found.
That gap in the evolution story is colloquially referred to as the "missing
link" controversy. In reality, though, all gaps in the fossil record are
technically "missing links" until filled in, and many scientists say the
term is meaningless.
Nonetheless, the latest fossil find is likely to ignite further the debate
between evolutionists who draw conclusions based on a limited fossil record,
and creationists who don't believe that humans, monkeys and apes evolved
from a common ancestor.
Scientists won't necessarily agree about the details either. "Lemur
advocates will be delighted, but tarsier advocates will be underwhelmed" by
the new evidence, says Tim White, a paleontologist at the University of
California, Berkeley. "The debate will persist."
The skeleton will be unveiled at New York City's American Museum of Natural
History next Tuesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and an international team
involved in the discovery.
According to Prof. Gingerich, the fossilized remains are of a young female
adapid. The skeleton was unearthed by collectors about two years ago and has
been kept tightly under wraps since then, in an unusual feat of scientific
Prof. Gingerich said he had twice examined the adapid skeleton, which was "a
complete, spectacular fossil." The completeness of the preserved skeleton is
crucial, because most previously found fossils of ancient primates were
small finds, such as teeth and jawbones.
It was found in the Messel Shale Pit, a disused quarry near Frankfurt,
Germany. The pit has long been a World Heritage Site and is the source of a
number of well-preserved fossils from the middle Eocene epoch, some 50
million years ago.
Prof. Gingerich said several scientists, including Jorn Hurum of Norway's
National History Museum, had inspected the fossil with computer tomography
scanning, a sophisticated X-ray technique that can provide detailed,
cross-sectional views. Dr. Hurum declined to comment.
Although the creature looks like a lemur, there are some distinctive
physical differences. Lemurs have a tooth comb (a tooth modified to help
groom fur); a grooming claw; and a wet nose. Dr. Gingerich said that the
adapid skeleton has neither a grooming claw nor a tooth comb. "We can't say
whether it had a wet nose or not," he noted.
Since the fossilized creature found in Germany didn't have features like a
tooth comb or grooming claw, it could be argued that it gave rise to
monkeys, apes and humans, which don't have these features either.
Write to Gautam Naik at
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A4
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Received on Tue May 19 12:52:29 2009

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