That’s the scoop, according to paleontologists studying a 47-million-year-old complete fossil unearthed around 25 years ago in an unused quarry near Frankfurt, Germany.
The lemur-like primate—scientific name Darwinius masillae, nickname “Ida”—is being hailed as the missing link; not necessarily our direct ancestor, but a member perched on a neighboring branch of the family tree. Or, as one oft-quoted scientist, Jens Franzen, put it to the BBC and others, not our “grand, grand, grandmother,” but our “grand, grand, grand, grand aunt.”
But, wait, Ida was found 25 years ago? Where’s the breaking news?
Ida was in a private collection for most of that time, until being purchased (in secret) by the University of Oslo. Now, after years of clandestine research, the fossil is suddenly a star, subject of a book pubbing today—The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor (Little, Brown) by biologist/writer Colin Tudge—an audiobook version also published by Hachette and a film. Find out about all these on the Ida website, where you can read about the discovery of the fossil, download the first chapter of the book or listen to a clip from the audiobook.
BTW, have you been to Google’s homepage today? Cool.