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The Messel Pit

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Uploaded on May 21, 2009

http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ... The Missing Link In Human Evolution? (Part 3): The Messel Pit.

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Official Press Release (PDF):
http://www.revealingthelink.com/more-...
Scientific Publication:
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.po...

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Scientists Discover 'Missing Link' In Human Evolution (Source: Sky News, May 19, 2009)

Scientists say they have found a primate fossil that shows our connection with other mammals and our earliest human ancestor. These pictures are from the programme "The Link" by Atlantic Productions.

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Scientists hail stunning fossil
By Christine McGourty
Science correspondent, BBC News

The beautifully preserved remains of a 47-million-year-old, lemur-like creature have been unveiled in the US. Christine McGourty takes a look at the beautifully preserved primate fossil.

The preservation is so good, it is possible to see the outline of its fur and even traces of its last meal.

The fossil, nicknamed Ida, is claimed to be a "missing link" between today's higher primates - monkeys, apes and humans - and more distant relatives.

But some independent experts, awaiting an opportunity to see the new fossil, are sceptical of the claim.

And they have been critical of the hype surrounding the presentation of Ida.

The fossil was launched amid great fanfare at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, by the city's mayor.

Although details of the fossil have only just been published in a scientific journal - PLoS One - there is already a TV documentary and book tie-in.

She belongs to the group from which higher primates and human beings developed but my impression is she is not on the direct line
Dr Jens Franzen

Ida was discovered in the 1980s in a fossil treasure-trove called Messel Pit, near Darmstadt in Germany. For much of the intervening period, it has been in a private collection.

The investigation of the fossil's significance was led by Jorn Hurum of the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway.

He said the fossil creature was "the closest thing we can get to a direct ancestor" and described the discovery as "a dream come true".

The female animal lived during an epoch in Earth history known as the Eocene, which was crucial for the development of early primates - and at first glance, Ida resembles a lemur.

But the creature lacks primitive features such as a so-called "toothcomb", a specialised feature in which the lower incisor and canine teeth are elongated, crowded together and projecting forward. She also lacks a special claw used for grooming.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/na...

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The Grube Messel (Messel Pit) is a disused quarry near the village of Messel (Hesse), about 35 km southeast of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Bituminous shale was mined there. Because of its plethora of fossils, it has significant geological and scientific importance. The Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on December 9, 1995.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messel_Pit
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