Missing link in evolution found
A famous naturalist is all set to present a documentary claiming to have discovered a missing link in human evolution - a monkey-like creature called an adapid.india Updated: May 12, 2009 13:25 IST
Famous broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, is all set to present a documentary claiming to have discovered a missing link in human evolution - a monkey-like creature called an adapid.
According to a report in the
, the programme, which would be aired on the BBC later this month, could help to resolve the debate about which kind of primates humans are descended from.
Sir David will reveal the well-preserved frame of the small monkey-like creature on the programme.
The fossilised animal, thought to be at least 37 million years old, is a member of the extinct adapid family, and was discovered in a disused quarry in Germany.
Similar in appearance to modern lemurs, the young female has certain key differences which convinced researchers they have found the link to modern apes.
Unlike lemurs, it has no "toothcomb" teeth for grooming or "toilet claws" for scratching, two omissions which make it more likely to be ancestral to monkeys, higher apes and ultimately humans.
The fossil is reportedly so well preserved that some of its soft tissues such as skin and even its stomach contents can be examined.
"I examined this skeleton. It is exceptionally complete and it is well-dated," said Professor Philip Gingerich, co-author of the report and president of the US Paleontological Society.
"We have kept it under wraps because you can't blither about something until you understand it. We now understand it. It is going to advance our knowledge of evolution," he added.
The fossil of the creature, named Darwinus masillae, was discovered in two parts at different times.