Yesterday, a remarkably complete, 47-million-year-old fossil of an early primate, named Darwinius masillae, was unveiled to an audience in New York City at the same time as a scientific article documenting the discovery, Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology, was published in PLoS ONE. 24 hours later and the media response has been impressive, to put it mildly, with over 700 stories listed on Google News. Google even modified its homepage logo today in recognition of the importance of the fossil, nicknamed “Ida” after lead author, Jorn Hurum’s daughter. The Messel Pit, where Ida was discovered, meanwhile, was featured in the Guardian’s regular In Praise of… column today.
Many reports in the media and in the blogosphere have questioned the use of the term “missing link” to describe this fossil and we addressed this issue in yesterday’s post. Regardless, the fact that the fossil is remarkably complete and well preserved means that it provides important information on the evolution of primates during a time period where little evidence exists.
Moreover, every reader of each of these news articles and blog posts can read the whole PLoS ONE article, including a number of related images and supporting information files, online and for free and can then make up his or her own mind about the fossil. Each article published in PLoS ONE has been peer reviewed; however, the Web 2.0 tools on the PLoS ONE website allow the scientific discussion and debate of these articles long after they have been published. We encourage interested readers to take advantage of the commenting and annotation features on the PLoS ONE journal website to discuss the article online.
Here is a summary of some of the media coverage of the discovery so far (we will be updating this list over the next few days and in subsequent posts):
- Wikipedia –Darwinius_masillae
- The Los Angeles Times – 47 million years old and still dazzling
- The Chicago Tribune – Gem of a fossil could offer window to the past
- The Boston Globe – Most complete fossil of primate revealed
- Reuters – Scientists unveil ancient fossil
- Associated Press – Early skeleton sheds light on primate evolution
- CNN – Scientists piece together human ancestry
- The Guardian – Fossil Ida: extraordinary find is ‘missing link’ between humans and mammals, Is fossil Ida a missing link in evolution?, Fossil Ida at a glance, Ida: the fossil that links us to the animal kingdom, The palaeontologist who brought fossil Ida to the world, Fossil Ida’s great big family and Fossils from the Messel site
- BBC – Scientists hail stunning fossil, A look inside the fossil-find pit, ‘Stunning’ fossil find unveiled, Primate fossil in virtual reality and Scientist on primate fossil find
- The Times Online – Fossil find provides ‘missing link’ in human evolution and Analysis: there are many missing links
- The Telegraph – Scientists unveil stunning fossil
- Press Association – Fossil unveiled as ‘missing link’
- Die Welt – Bindeglied von Affe und Mensch gefunden?
- El Mundo – Descubierto el antepasado humano más primitivo
- Javno.com – Scientists Unveil Ancient Fossilised Primate
- Cosmos Magazine – Astounding primate fossil excites experts
- The Age – Meet the ancestor: 47-million-year-old human link revealed
- Nature – Reunion of fossil halves splits scientists
- National Geographic – “Missing Link” Photos: New Fossil Links Humans, Lemurs?
- ScienceNOW – “Revolutionary” Fossil Fails to Dazzle Anthropologists
- Live Science – Ancient Human Ancestor ‘Ida’ Discovered
- The Loom
- The Intersection
- Framing Science
- Evolving Thoughts
- Not Exactly Rocket Science
- The Evilutionary Biologist
- The Open Source Paleontologist
- Cryptozoology Online
- Neuron Culture
- The Sensuous Curmudgeon
- Starts with a Bang!
- A Blog Around the Clock
- Radio National (Australia) – Key find of fossil primate (mp3)
- Newsnight (BBC), May 19 (from 32:24)
- Global TV May 19
- Good Morning America