RIL News

"Missing link" was an exaggeration

Publicerad: 2009-06-06

The human ape Ida became a media fiasco because of so many exaggerations in the recent media rapports

[[rpen:Evolution theory|Evolution theory]] eventually found the finding they so much needed and [[rpen:creationism|creationists]] were assumed to cry. However this didn't happen and it's not the first time these kind of exaggerations back fire

The media hype hit back towards the researches when the finding turned out to not have the significance it was said to have, although the fossil itself were nice.

The old ape skeleton of Ida is said to be 47 million your old.


The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet assisted in calming down the pitch somewhat when they in the article titled "Paleontologist about the global hype around Ida" dared ask the question whether this really was a [[rpen:missing link|missing link]] in the [[rpen:evolution|evolution]] of man.

– There is no bearing on the claim that this finding may explain the missing link in human development", says Lars Werdelin, paleontologist at the National Museum in Stockholm and having no links to any form of belief in God.

When the 47 million year old [[rpen:fossil|fossil]] Ida ([[rpen:Darwinius masillae|Darwinius masillae]]) was presented there were heard strange statements from the research team, among other things "Our earliest ancestor", "the [[rpen:missing link|missing link]]", "half human, half [[rpen:Lemuridae|Lemuridae]]" and "the world's eighth wonder".

The research team is led by the Norwegian fossil expert Professor Jørn Hurum.

Home page and a book

Strangely enough, the whole event seemed to be prepared for maximum media effect. Already the day after there appeared to be a prepared TV program ready about the fossil bones Ida.

Even a complete web site had been prepared by the research team as a preparation for the world news at a press conference in New York in USA.

Major newspapers around the world have paid attention to the news, but just one day after the commotion had settled somewhat several critics called the importance of the finding exaggerated and the value words from the research team have been called ridiculous.

Humbug and exaggeration

Lars Werdelin states for Aftonbladet that he has read the research paper without being excited.

- One could say that I get less and less excited the more I learn about Ida, he says.

He compares the researchers' presentation and their reaction with a first opening of a movie.

- In the trailer you will learn that "this is the movie that changes the film history". And so you go and see the movie and find out that it was not so very special. That's about how I feel about this, he says.

- During the press conference they said that this is the finding "which changes everything." Couldn't they have strained them selves a bit more moderate? It is not a [[rpen:missing link|missing link]] between monkey and man, it's not a relative in a straight genealogy, it's nothing but swizz.

"Great fossil"

Lars Werdelin points out, however, that Ida is a great finding.

- It is a very nice fossil. It is very rare with fossils of primates, and that it is so intact that one and even can see what she ate for her last meal means that you can learn a lot about how early primates evolved.

- But there is no substance in the claim that this finding can explain the missing link in human evolution.

Lars Werdelin states for Aftonbladet that he believes that media hysteria is created for commercial reasons.

- It was one fatty prepared organized press conference and it's a lot of money involved.

He further says that he hopes that this story does not harm people's perceptions of science.

Creationist organisation about the hyper-hype and the Holy Grail

In a commentary [[cmi:dr-don-batten|Dr. Don Batten]], International Creation Ministry, [[cmi:|CMI, Australia]], concludes:

- "The orchestrated multimedia blitz over this fossil is almost unbelievable. The paleontologists even got Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, to officiate at the public “launch” of Ida (the cute nickname for the fossil), when it was unveiled—like a new sculpture by a famous artist—to the assembled journalists."

Don Batten goes on to say that the co-author Dr Jørn Hurum said during the televised meet-the-press that “It’s really, really hard to pinpoint exactly who gave rise to humans at that point, but this is as good as it gets, really."

According to ScienceNews, Hurum said, “This is the first link to all humans … truly a fossil that links world heritage.”2 And, “It is the scientific equivalent of the [[rpen:Holy Grail|Holy Grail]]."

Editorial office

Sources: Aftonbladet, CMI

Fotnote: 47 milllion years is an evolutionary intrepretation of age based on indirect measurements of physical processer. The measurement results are then reinterpreted to time because the past can not be measured directly. This type of "ages" is fundamentally uncertain because they are based on uncertain prior assumptions.