This has been a great year for fossils (ironic, as it’s the International Year of Astronomy, not paleontology). Now we have a new adapid, Darwinius Masillae. Perversely, the fossil was uncovered over 25 years ago, but was kept away from paleontologists and biologists until 2007. What a delay!
Of course, the whole “missing link” discussion is so much nonsense. It presupposes that evolution is a simple chain of events one after the other, and that we merely need to look hard enough to find every single species that led from amoeba to human. Gibberish, in other words. Darwin described a tree of life, with many branches that wandered and sometimes were pruned. Biologists since then have expanded this into more of a web of life, as there are examples of hybridization and DNA transfer between branches of the Darwinian tree. But, good luck getting a scientifically-illiterate journalist to discuss the latest in a long series of puzzle pieces that have made the theory of evolution one of the best-supported and most solid scientific theories of all time. No matter that my office mate just made some disparaging remark about how Ida is a big deal for those “Darwin believers” – I assume he meant, “any educated person.”