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Ida the Lemur and media manipulation


Ida the Lemur-like creature, has had some high praise from leading Darwinists. David Attenborough announced with confidence that the missing link ‘is no longer missing,’ but the way the evidence has been presented and handled has raised questions about media manipulation, especially from the London Times science correspondent Mark Henderson; he seems quite miffed. 

More on Ida: overblown claims and a worrying precedent

Mark Henderson reports that doubts have arisen now that others have finally been given access to the fossil and suggests that Ida is related to ‘nothing that exists today.’ Although Ida is an important fossil, he writes that ‘she isn’t all that’ and complains that the researchers haven’t provided sufficient evidence to justify their claims. He argues that this is… 

‘…especially serious given the publicity blitz behind Ida…a popular book, a documentary, a website and an exhibition have been launched on the back of this find, before it has received full scientific scrutiny.’ 

Henderson comments that the researchers appear to have rushed their work ‘to fit with the media schedule.’ Rights were sold to some media outlets, including the BBC, and this has shaped the way the evidence has been conducted and presented. Science journalists without that privileged access to data were given insufficient time to properly evaluate the story. Henderson writes; 

‘Is it really right that full embargoed access to important and controversial research findings should be restricted on the say-so of the authors, to media that best suit their publicity strategy? Especially when money has changed hands?’ 

Henderson ends by correcting a previous statement; 

‘there was an unfortunate error in the graphic accompanying my piece in the paper. An early draft was printed by mistake. Darwinius masillae is not a direct ancestor of both lemurs/lorises and apes/monkeys. It seems to lie on the ape/monkey branch, after the last common ancestor of both groups, and it may well be a direct ancestor of nothing at all that exists today.’ (emphasis added)

You know, I could be wrong, but if neo-Darwinism was as true as others act like it is, shouldn't there be TONS UPON TONS of missing links? I mean, let's say we even found 100 or more "missing links," how come there's not more than that?? I'm not so much opposed to the idea of common descent, but who says, if the idea is indeed true, that it's as random as some people think it is. Maybe it was a planned linage between organisms. Domoman
If anyone is interested here is a link to Dr. Sternberg's article on the Ida fossil. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/05/the_link_or_science_fiction_double_feature_dr_x_builds_a_creature.html#more If I'm supposed to add some kind of citation to this please someone tell me. SaintMartinoftheFields
Don't forget, he had to pay $1 million for the fossil. Is it any wonder he tries to make money? He has turned into a hollywood producer, not a scientist. And all the media join in that were contracted and paid. DATCG
It is their religion, culture and propaganda... “Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.” I asked Beelzebub on an earlier post why Darwinist are appealing to churchs. Was it Last rights? I was kidding of course. But it is truly amazing to watch how they plot and plan. When scientist must appeal to churches and media propaganda they are no longer practicing science. They are practicing beliefs and media marketing or worse, possible deception. This whole Lemur fossil propaganda affair has exploded in their faces. Rightfully so. And materialism has long held sway in media anyway on evolution. This entire episode of secrecy for two years, media payoffs and contracts, smacks of Barnum and Baily Circus. The message and beliefs have become more important than the actual science. DATCG
Will the real Ida please stand up?
So, Ida is not a "missing link" – at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates.
That's the verdict pronounced by Chris Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in his online article, Why Ida fossil is not the missing link in today's issue of New Scientist magazine. So who is Ida? According to the popular press, she's the missing link - or more precisely, the common ancestor of lemurs, lorises, monkeys and apes. But according to London Times science correspondent Mark Henderson, whom you cite above, Ida lies on the monkey-ape branch of the primate family tree, after this line split off from the line leading to lemurs and lorises:
Darwinius masillae is not a direct ancestor of both lemurs/lorises and apes/monkeys. It seems to lie on the ape/monkey branch, after the last common ancestor of both groups and it may well be a direct ancestor of nothing at all that exists today.
And according to Chris Beard, Ida lies on the lemur-loris branch of the primate family tree, after this line split off from the line leading to monkeys and apes:
Ida forms the basis for a new genus and species of adapiform primate, Darwinius massillae. The adapids are a branch of the primate tree that leads to modern lemurs (see figure)... Like all adapiforms, Ida lacked a "toothcomb" at the front of her lower jaw – a structure that living lemurs use for grooming fur. Ida also lacked a "grooming claw" on her second toe, another difference from living lemurs. Otherwise, Ida's overall proportions and anatomy resemble that of a lemur, and the same is true for other adapiform primates. What does Ida's anatomy tell us about her place on the family tree of humans and other primates? The fact that she retains primitive features that commonly occurred among all early primates, such as simple incisors rather than a full-fledged toothcomb, indicates that Ida belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do. But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of anthropoids – the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes – and humans. In order to establish that connection, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably. So, Ida is not a "missing link" – at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies her status as the "eighth wonder of the world".
Confused? Well, it only gets worse. According to the online science article, Poor, poor Ida, Or: "Overselling an Adapid" by science writer Brian Switek, who specializes in paleontology and blogs for Smithsonian magazine's Dinosaur Tracking, the adapids (an extinct group of lemur-like primates to which Ida belongs) are probably not the closest group of primates to monkeys and apes anyway. It seems we're more closely related to tarsiers than to lemurs. Switek is not just blowing smoke here: he cites a paper in the new hardcover technical volume, Anthropoid Origins, available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0306481200?ie=UTF8&tag=laelaps-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0306481200 . Switek explains:
Scientists have long debated the question of what earlier primates the earliest anthropoids evolved from. There have been a number of hypotheses proposed, but they have generally centered around three groups: the adapids (an extinct group of lemur-like primates to which Darwinius belongs), the omomyids (an extinct group of tarsier-like primates), and the tarsiers (strange, large-eyed primates with living representatives). Each of these groups has been favored as the progenitors of anthropoids, but which one is the right one? In order to solve his problem paleo-primatologists have been trying to figure out which of these groups is closest to the anthropoids. It might be impossible to identify a true anthropoid ancestor with certainty, but by figuring out the next closest related group (or sister group) scientists can create and test hypotheses about what an anthropoid ancestor might look like. These determinations are based upon shared derived characters, or particular traits shared by two groups and their common ancestor to the exclusion of other groups. As outlined in the paper "Evolving Perspectives on Anthropoidea" (among others) included in the recent Anthropoid Origins volume, it presently appears that tarsiers and omomyids are the closest groups to anthropoids. This is based upon a combination of fossil, genetic, and morphological evidence. This makes the adapid primates, including Darwinius, a more distant side branch more closely related to living lemurs and lorises.
Switek concludes:
The bottom line is that the hypothesis that Darwinius is closer to anthropoids than tarsiers or omomyids does not have strong support. Even though the authors of the paper constructed a very simple cladogram they did not undertake a full, rigorous cladistic analysis to support their claims. I am baffled as to how they could stress the significance of this fossil without undertaking the requisite research to support their hypothesis. Is Darwinius important to understanding primate evolution? Of course! It is an exceptionally preserved specimen that could do much to aid our understanding of adapid evolution and paleobiology. The grand claims about it being our ancestor, though, can not be upheld as true.
As someone who has been a keen student of human evolution for 37 years, I have to say that the level of confusion here is farcical, and the level of hype in the popular press simply inexcusable. I think everyone needs to wait for the scientific dust to settle before making a rush to judgement. vjtorley
In case anyone missed this, here is a pertinent story about Ida from Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1900057,00.html SaintMartinoftheFields
Thank you for posting this. I read this over a couple times and I have a question. "Darwinius masillae is not a direct ancestor of both lemurs/lorises and apes/monkeys." Is Darwinius masillae even a lemur? Or is it a type of lemur that existed in prehistoric times and then died out leaving no descendents? SaintMartinoftheFields

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