DISCOVERY

Evolution's Missing Link?

Forget Lucy. A new 47 million-year-old fossil unveiled at the American Natural History Museum Tuesday may offer clues on human ancestry. The fossil, labeled Darwinius Massilae, but nicknamed “Ida” is an early member of a “stem group” from which humans are thought to have derived. The specimen—also said to be the most in-tact primate fossil ever discovered because its skeleton is 95 percent complete—has an opposable big toe and fingernails, in addition to a developed mandible. Ida was discovered outside of Frankfurt, Germany in 1983. Dr. Jørn Hurum, the chief scientist for the project, purchased her in 2006. He has spent the last two years researching the fossil's origins in secret. He’s now unveiling it amid massive media hoopla. The discovery, which has been branded “The Link,” and likened to the Rosetta Stone and the Holy Grail will, conveniently, be the subject of a book and a two-hour History Channel special. Maybe we shouldn't forget about Lucy, after all.