Ida Hype Fails To Impress Experts

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Ida hype fails to impress experts, according to articles in Live Science, ScienceNOW and Access Research Network, The Guardian and Wall Street Journal. The small primate fossil nicknamed Ida was launched into the public eye with a blaze of media hyperbole involving a Museum show presided over by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, a Google logo, a David Attenborough documentary, and a website named “Revealing the Link”. But the media “made monkeys of themselves” and many palaeontologists were not impressed with the extravagant claims, which include being called the “eighth wonder of the world”, along with aggrandizing statements by the following people:

Jorn Hurum, Norwegian fossil scientist, University of Oslo Natural History Museum: "This is the first link to all humans ... truly a fossil that links world heritage."

Philip Gingerich, of the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan:"It's really a kind of Rosetta Stone," and "This is the first link in human evolution. A find like this is something for all humankind. It tells a part of our evolution that's been hidden so far... This is our Mona Lisa and it will be ... for the next 100 years."

Nancy Dubuc of the History Channel: “(Ida) promised to change everything that we thought we understood about the origins of human life." David Attenborough: "This little creature is going to show us our connection with all the rest of the mammals. The link they would have said until now is missing ... it is no longer missing."

The term “missing link” was bandied about numerous times and a book entitled “The Link” accompanies the TV documentary. However, even the scientists who studied it are not claiming it as a direct ancestor of humans. Jens Franzen of the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, who helped analyse the fossil, commented that it is "a representative of an ancestor group that gave rise to higher primates" but he stopped short of calling the animal a direct human ancestor. He claimed: "She's not our great-great-great-grandmother, but our great-great-great-aunt." Chris Beard, a curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh commented to Live Science: "It's not a missing link, it's not even a terribly close relative to monkeys, apes and humans, which is the point they're trying to make." He also said: "This fossil has been hailed as the eighth wonder of the world. Frankly I've got 10 more in my basement. In some ways the most amazing and startling result of all of this is that we've now set a new standard in how to promote a new fossil, and I have mixed feelings about that.

Access Research Network, Guardian, Live Science, Wall St Journal

Editorial Comment: All the extravagant claims about this fossil remind us of the old joke: “Be sure brain is engaged before shooting mouth off”. Even without fanciful comparisons with the Rosetta Stone and the Mona Lisa, any connection between this fossil and human beings is purely in the minds of evolutionists, who already believe by faith that people used to be small tree dwelling quadrupeds. The overplayed evolutionary story about this fossil has distracted people from its real value as a particularly well preserved and complete animal fossil that reveals a unique mixture of non-unique characteristics. This is what you would expect if it was a separate created kind, as Genesis says. (Ref. propaganda, publicity, anthropology)

Evidence News, 27 May 2009

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