I got home from work to the news that the “missing link” had been discovered. Which promptly raised my blood pressure. Kambiz has the story. As does Reuters and the Register. Both Reuters and the Register say something along the following lines (from the Register):
Scientists are postulating that a 10 million year old jawbone unearthed in Kenya’s northern Nakali region may belong to the so-called evolutionary “missing link” – the common ancestor of African great apes and humans.
The species — somewhere between the size of a female gorilla and a female orangutan — may prove to be the “missing link”, the key step that split the evolutionary chains of humans and other primates, Kenyan scientists said.
As much as I would like to unleash my wrath on the two news services, I can’t because, as the second quote shows, this rubbish is being perpetuated by paleoanthropologists (and shame on them):
Frederick Manthi, senior research scientist at the National Museums of Kenya, declared at a press conference: “Based on this particular discovery, we can comfortably say we are approaching the point at which we can pin down the so-called missing link.”
In point of fact the “missing link” is a pseudoscientific construct that is a holdover from religious views concerning the animal kingdom and man’s place in nature. Such notions have been dispensed with – or should have been – a long time ago. What was actually found was part of a mandible dating to about 10 MYA.
Reseachers have erected a new species, Nakalipithecus nakayamai and have suggested that it comes before the split between gorillas, chimps, and humans. The fossil is described, in the Reuters article, as follows:
“The teeth were covered in thick enamel and the caps were low and voluminous, suggesting that the diet of this ape consisted of a considerable amount of hard objects, like nuts or seeds, and fruit,” Yutaka Kunimatsu at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute said in a telephone interview.
The research is supposed to be in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and we all know how fast they are at getting things up on the web.
I’ll have more to say when I find the article.
Filed under: Paleoanthropology |