Monday, September 26, 2022
HomeEvolutionFossil Friday: Darwinius, or How Wishful Pondering Makes a Lacking Hyperlink

Fossil Friday: Darwinius, or How Wishful Pondering Makes a Lacking Hyperlink


Photograph: Darwinius marsillae, Franzen et al. 2009, through Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.5.

In 2008 the best-preserved fossil primate but found was acquired from a non-public assortment for the Pure Historical past Museum in Oslo by the Norwegian paleontologist Jørn Hurum. The outstanding fossil originated from the well-known Eocene (about 47 mya) Messel locality in Germany and was named Darwinius marsillae but it surely turned extra well-known below its nickname “Ida.” To finance the very costly buy of the fossil (allegedly for a sum of $750,000), Hurum orchestrated a novel publicity stunt that included a guide with the sensational title The Hyperlink: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor (Tudge & Younger 2009) and a TV documentary by BBC and the Historical past Channel titled The Lacking Hyperlink. The latter was narrated by at least Richard Attenborough and marketed with a ridiculous TV teaser, which even in contrast the significance of the invention to occasions like Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, and the Apollo 11 moon touchdown.

An Overhyped Fossil

The large media marketing campaign result in headlines on the earth press that weren’t content material with simply calling the fossil a lacking hyperlink however merely “THE hyperlink” or “the eighth surprise of the world” (Randerson 2009). Within the authentic description the authors claimed that Darwinius is the lengthy sought lacking hyperlink within the evolution of anthropoids, the primate group that not solely consists of monkeys and apes but in addition us people (Franzen et al. 2009). Early critiques targeted on the media hype, the careless research, and proof that Ida might as an alternative be a lemur (Barras & Hooper 2009, Beard 2009, Dalton 2009; additionally see Luskin 2009a, 2009b, 2010).

Two new research of the fossil printed inside a yr by Seiffert et al. (2009) and Williams et al. (2010) certainly overturned the daring authentic declare and confirmed that Darwinius belongs to the well-known adapoid group, which is taken into account to be nearer to lemurs than to anthropoid primates. The unique authors tried to defend their view (Gingerich et al. 2010), however had been exhausting pressed to elucidate why their phylogenetic evaluation primarily based on few characters and few taxa ought to trump the opposing research primarily based on many extra characters and taxa, thus a wider base of knowledge.

It seems like no person within the scientific group and even the media swallowed this failed apologetic for an overhyped fossil (see the Wikipedia article on Darwinius). The overall opinion right this moment is that Darwinius will not be a lacking hyperlink in any respect, not even an actual monkey, however simply one other consultant of a comparatively insignificant early side-branch of primates.


  • Barras C & Hooper R 2009. Q&A: Jørn Hurum on Ida, media hype and primate evolution. New Scientist Could 27, 2009.
  • Beard C 2009. Why Ida fossil will not be the lacking hyperlink. New Scientist Could 21, 2009.
  • Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W & Smith BH 2009. Full primate skeleton from the center Eocene of Messel in Germany: morphology and paleobiology. PLoS ONE 4(5):e5723, 1–27. DOI:
  • Dalton R 2009. Fossil primate challenges Ida’s place. Nature 461, 1040. DOI:
  • Gingerich PD, Franzen JL, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH & Smith BH: Darwinius masillae is a Haplorhine – Reply to Williams et al. (2010). Journal of Human Evolution 59(5), 574–579. DOI:
  • Luskin C 2009a. The Large Ida: The Rise & Fall of One other Lacking Hyperlink & Different Media Hype. Salvo Journal 10.
  • Luskin C 2009b. The Evolution of “Ida”: Darwinius masillae Fossil Downgraded From Ancestor to Pet. Evolution Information October 24, 2009.
  • Luskin C 2010. The Rise and Fall of Lacking Hyperlink Famous person “Ida”. IDEA Heart.
  • Randerson J 2009. Deal in Hamburg bar led scientist to Ida fossil, the ‘eighth surprise of the world’. The GuardianCould 19, 2009.
  • Seiffert ER, Perry JGM, Simons EL & Boyer DM 2009. Convergent evolution of anthropoid-like diversifications in Eocene adapiform primates. Nature 461(7267), 1118–1121. DOI:
  • Tudge C & Younger J 2009. The Hyperlink: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor. Little Brown & Co., Boston (MA), 272 pp.
  • Williams BA, Kay RF, Kirk EC, Ross CF 2010. Darwinius masillae is a strepsirrhineda reply to Franzen et al. (2009). Journal of Human Evolution 59(5), 567–573. DOI:



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments