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Fascinating Ida

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.

Ida on the Google HomepageMany 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):




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