HISTORY Channel(TM), The University of Oslo and the Senckenberg Research Institute Reveal Landmark Scientific Find
47 Million Year Old Primate Fossil Set to Revolutionize Understanding of Human Evolution
– HISTORY SPECIAL DOCUMENTING DISCOVERY TO AIR
The find is lauded as the most important scientific discovery of recent times. HISTORY will premiere the major television special — “The Link” — chronicling the discovery and study of the fossil. The two-hour program, produced by
For the past two years, a team of esteemed scientists, led by world-renowned Norwegian paleontologist Dr.
“This specimen is like finding the lost ark for archaeologists,” said Hurum. “This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.”
“This is a history-making story and HISTORY channel is honored to be working with the brilliant team of scientists who have uncovered one of the most important paleontological finds of both this generation and perhaps many to come,” said
About the discovery
Holly Smith, top U.S. dental anthropologist, University of Michigan: “In terms of a complete skeleton, it’s hard to think of anything else in primate evolution that’s as complete as this fossil. It’s certainly the most beautiful fossil primate I’ve ever seen.”
Jens Franzen, German fossil and Messel Pit expert, Senckenberg Research Institute: “This is by far the most complete fossil primate ever found in the world. When the results of our investigations are published this will be just like an asteroid hitting the earth.”
Philip Gingerich, leading U.S. primate specialist, University of Michigan: “It’s really a kind of Rosetta Stonebecause it ties together parts we haven’t been able to associate before.”
Jorg Habersetzer, German fossil expert and radiologist, Senckenberg Research Institute: “This fossil rewrites our understanding of the evolution of primates.”
Unlike Lucy and other famous primate fossils found in Africa’s Cradle of Mankind, “Ida” is a European fossil, preserved in Germany’s Messel Pit; the mile-wide crater and oil-rich shale is a significant site for fossils of the Eocene period. Fossil analysis reveals that the prehistoric primate was a young female. Opposable big toes and nails instead of claws confirm the fossil is a primate. It is the evidence in Ida’s ankle that links her to us; her talus bone is the same shape as ours only smaller. In addition to the 95% complete skeleton, measuring approximately three feet in length, the fossil also features the complete soft body outline as well as the gut contents; an herbivore, “Ida” fed on fruits, seeds and leaves before she died. X-rays reveal both baby and adult teeth, but also the lack of a “toothcomb” or a “toilet claw” — attributes of lemurs. The scientists estimate Ida’s age to be approximately nine months.
The fossil was revealed publicly for the first time today at a news conference held at the American Museum of Natural History in
A cast of the specimen will be on display in the “Extreme Mammals” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.
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