This article just pisses me off, as has almost every article in the media about evolution, especially human evolution, for as long as I can remember. I swear there must be a template in Microsoft Word for such articles, where the meaningless term “missing link” is already there, along with a title that announces how this changes everything we thought we knew about (fill in the blank).
The headline reads: “Missing link found? Scientists unveil fossil of 47 million-year-old primate, Darwinius masillae.” No. The missing link was not found, because there is no missing link. That absurd idea suggests that if we could just find that one crucial fossil, we would finally have proof of evolution. That’s nonsense. It is an interesting fossil, to be sure, and it does fill in a gap in the full fossil record. But that is a mundane, almost daily event in paleontology.
Feast your eyes on what a group of scientists call the Holy Grail of human evolution.
A team of researchers Tuesday unveiled an almost perfectly intact fossil of a 47 million-year-old primate they say represents the long-sought missing link between humans and apes.
Officially known as Darwinius masillae, the fossil of the lemur-like creature dubbed Ida shows it had opposable thumbs like humans and fingernails instead of claws.
Scientists say the cat-sized animal’s hind legs offer evidence of evolutionary changes that led to primates standing upright – a breakthrough that could finally confirm Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Stop it. Just fucking stop it. No, this doesn’t “finally confirm” the theory of evolution; that theory has been confirmed every day for the past 150 years with so much evidence that only the ignorant or the deluded could possibly deny it. And no, this is not a “missing link between humans and apes” — humans and apes diverged within the last 10 million years or so, not 47 million years ago. It is a specimen of a relatively early primate, but that predates the evolution of apes by millions of years. It’s part of the long lineage (no, that doesn’t mean it was a direct ancestor) that led to the development of both humans and apes much later and that makes it an exciting find. But everything else about this is bullshit.
And I wish scientists would stop saying shit like this:
“This specimen is like finding the Lost Ark for archeologists,” lead scientist Jorn Hurum said at a ceremony at the American Museum of Natural History.
“It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail. This fossil will probably be the one that will be pictured in all textbooks for the next 100 years.” …
His colleague, Jens Franzen, hailed the discovery as “the eighth wonder of the world.”
Again, stop it. Science isn’t public relations, for crying out loud. Stop engaging in such absurd hyperbole in order to get your name in the New York Times or on the Discovery channel.