Scientists on Tuesday unveiled the well preserved fossilized remains found in Germany of a primate from 47 million years ago that may have been a close relative of the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and people.There's a couple of reasons for all the coverage and HOOPLA; first:
It is the most complete fossil primate ever found, only missing part of one leg below the knee, and could shed light on an early stage of primate evolution, the scientists said.
Norwegian paleontologist Jorn Hurum, who led a team of scientists who analyzed the fossil in the past two years, said it may resemble one of the earliest ancestors of humans but was not likely to have been a direct ancestor.
"We are not dealing with our grand- grand- grand- grandmother but perhaps our grand- grand- grand- aunt," Jens Franzen of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt told reporters at New York's American Museum of Natural History.
The primate, which was two feet from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, was a female that died before its first birthday, Hurum said. It was called Darwinius masillae in honor of Charles Darwin, who advanced the theory of evolution, but nicknamed Ida.
The unveiling Tuesday coincides not only with the publication of a scientific paper, but also with the release of a new book about the fossil — "The Link," (Little Brown and Company, 2009) — and a documentary also called "The Link" and set to premiere on the History Channel May 25.Second:
(A book, a museum show, a TV show - even the Mayor was promoting it! Sheesh!)
Ida was unveiled at New York's American Museum of Natural History, which will feature a replica cast in a new exhibit about mammals. It was promoted by a press release for the cable TV channel History that called it a "revolutionary scientific find that will change everything."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among the speakers at the news conference, called it an "astonishing breakthrough."
The story of the fossil find will be shown on History, which is owned by A&E Television Networks. A book also is planned.
These scientists - and their commercial colleagues - argue this creature was an ancestor of primates. Since we humans are also a primates - they argue it's our ancestor.
Some other scientists take a more skeptical view of the fossil's connection to us:
Experts not connected with the discovery said the finding was remarkably complete because of features like stomach contents.Recently, there have been other interesting news stories about human evolution.
But they questioned the conclusions of Hurum and his colleagues about how closely it is related to ancestors of monkeys and humans.
"I actually don't think it's terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people," said K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
"I would say it's about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate."
Rather than a long-ago aunt, "I would say it's more like a third cousin twice removed," he said.
So it probably resembles ancestral creatures "only in a very peripheral way," he said.
Beard said scientists already have a fossil from China of about the same age that is widely accepted as coming from monkey-ape-human ancestral line, and it's much smaller than the new-found fossil and ate a different diet.
"They are radically different animals," he said. John Fleagle of the State University of New York at Stony Brook said the scientists' analysis provides only "a pretty weak link" between the new creature and higher primates, called anthropoids, that includes monkeys and man.
"It doesn't really tell us much about anthropoid origins, quite frankly," Fleagle said.
Some about how Neanderthals might very well have been hunted and eaten out of existence by our ancestors.
Some stories have appeared about what might possibly be another branch of humans (a dead-end) of little humans, humans which some scientists call a hobbit, after the JRR Tolkien creature.
Exactly how these various creatures - "IDA", the Neanderthals, and the "hobbit" - fit into our evolutionary past is a matter of debate - SCIENTIFIC DEBATE. It is not settled.
Despite the fact that it is not settled, many militant atheists refer to these creatures as if they were not only "THE MISSING LINK!" but as if they disproved the existence of God.
Here's a depiction of how they seem to see things:
We are to be confronted on so-called news shows - like Hardball - as if we were a Torquemada or a Bin Laden.
But where would we be without Judeo-Christian believers? Where would Western civilization be, What would our nation be?
There would be no Declaration Of Independence without believers. We are endowed by our CREATOR with inalienable rights; (these rights are not the gift of aristocrats or the government or politicians!).
YES: Natural Law is the foundation of our founding - as the Judeo-Christian God is the very foundation of Western Civilization.
What would our civilization - our CULTURE - look like and sound like without God?
No Beethoven's Ninth.
No Agnus Dei.
No Western Civilization.
YEAH YEAH YEAH: the knee-jerk left-wing postmodernists always retaliate to this by harking back to Europe's religious wars - as if they were the worst wars in history.
THEY WEREN'T. NOT BY A LONG-SHOT.
Socialism killed more in the last century - the 20th C - than Judeo-Christianity killed over religion in the previous 20 COMBINED! Western religion killed a few million in the religious wars. Socialism 150 million.
And Islam killed more than socialism - (granted, they had 14 centuries and killed about 270 million for their ideology, their martial creed; that's more than all the West's wars combined; YES: Islam is the world's most deadly ideology).
So when you hear the militant atheists and postmodernists rant and rave about the ills of Judeo-Christianity... tell them to shut up and consider what life would be without Judeo-Christian Civilization.
And remind them that without a belief in God, our future might easily become as devoid of higher value as our pre-Judeo-Christian past. That was a world without personal liberty and without democracy; it was a world instead filled with pagan despotism, human sacrifice, and utter debauchery.
SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN REALLY? WHAT DOES IT PROVE?
It may not prove the existence of God.
SO WHAT: FOR OUR SMALL MINDS - MINDS WHICH CAN ONLY SEE HINTS OF THE INFINITE AND ONLY FLEETING GLIMPSES OF THE ETERNAL - ACCEPTING GOD'S EXISTENCE REQUIRES A LEAP FAITH.
Does it prove anything, then?
Yes: It proves the value of the belief in God.
So... I say to my atheist friends: come, take that leap.
Be not afraid.
We're here on the other side of the divide, and we'll catch you. ALL OF YOU.
Yes... all of you.
You see... we've the strength of angels - the angels of our better nature.