Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Researchers find primate "missing link"


Scientists have discovered a primate fossil that they believe forms a crucial "missing link" between our own evolutionary branch of life and the rest of the animal kingdom. The 47 million year old primate fossil may well be to understanding early stages of primate evolution.

The skeleton is 95% complete and is so well preserved that it is possible to see individual hairs covering its' body and even the make-up of the animal's final meal. The fossil's amazing preservation means that the scientific team has managed to glean a huge amount of information from it. Researchers believe it comes from the time when the primate lineage, that diversified into monkeys, apes and ultimately humans, split from a separate group that went on to become lemurs and other less well known species.

The real excitement comes from the fact that this specimen is not on the lemur line because it lacks two key characteristics shared by lemurs – a grooming claw on her second toe and a fused set of teeth called a tooth comb. Also, a bone in her ankle called the talus is shaped like members of our branch of the primates. So the researchers believe she may be on our evolutionary line dating from just after the split with the lemurs.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

... Or, it's just an old dead monkey...

S.M.D. said...

Or it's a missing link. Either way it's worth studying and understanding...

Beam Me Up said...

Thats just it! it IS an old dead "monkey" the missing link as SMD correctly identifying the core argument.