Media Blog

Hyping the Monkey Fossil

We’ve found the “missing link?”  Not so fast.  NBC News:

There is no question that this is an important scientific finding. The fossil purchased by scientists at a market in Europe is exceptionally well preserved. But the documentary is titled “The Link: This Changes Everything,” and the press kit for the event declares that reporters are about to “witness the most important find in 47 million years.”

 

So I phoned Dr. Tim White at the University of California, Berkeley. White is a renowned paleontologist who played a key role in the discovery of “Lucy,” the first ape-like creature to stand erect and many other important findings about the evolution leading to humans.

 

 ”Three words,” he said. “Over the top.”

 

The people who promoted this event make a big deal out of the possible place this newly discovered fossil plays in the evolution leading to humans. But if you read their actual scientific paper in a respectable peer-reviewed scientific journal (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0005723) the scientists make no such claim.

So, why the hype?  Because there’s already a History Channel special on the monkey set to air on May 25. 

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