Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New, very complete, skeleton of Eocene primate published

The quite complete skeleton of a new species of Eocene primate has been published in PLoS ONE. It is so complete that it includes the outline of the soft tissue and the contents of the digestive tract.

Franzen JL,
Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W, et al. 2009 Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5723. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005723

Some of the popular press have started raving about this as the "missing link" and claiming it's related to the human lineage, but that is all deceptive. This is a very early primate, about 47 million years old, and weighed less than 1 kilo, hardly what we think of as the missing link. Nevertheless, it is an important discovery.

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