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Ida is no longer a missing link

Remember Ida, the fossil that was supposed to change everything we know about human evolution? It’s now been completely removed from the human family tree.

Plenty of doubts were raised about this at the time, both about Ida’s claim to a place on the human branch of the primate family tree, and the wisdom of producing popular films and books about scientific discoveries that have yet to be published and peer-reviewed. Today has brought a fresh twist.

A second new adapid named Afradapis longicristatus, closely related to Darwinius, is described in Nature by a team led by Erik Seiffert, of Stony Brook University in New York state. And analysis of the two fossils indicates strongly that neither is an anthropoid. Both Darwinius and Afradapis appear to be members of a group more closely related to lemurs and lorises than to monkeys, apes and people, which has left no known modern descendents. The scenario advanced to promote Ida as “the Link” appears to be wrong.

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