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Who? Why? Where?

The last time we turned cartwheels over having discovered the missing link was when the Piltdown Man came to light. But alas, that was but a cruel hoax carefully tailored by cunning scientists.

india Updated: May 21, 2009 21:48 IST

It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. But when it comes to human evolution, the only strong link we know of is the one which is missing till date. But, hang on, you might say. Have we not found that link in the skeleton of an ape-like creature that was splashed all over the newspapers recently? Much as we would love to believe that the fossil of 47 million-year-old Ida could connect us to our ancestors, we are still a little sceptical given the past failures in locating missing links. These and other great mysteries will never quite be resolved to our liking.

The last time we turned cartwheels over having discovered the missing link was when the Piltdown Man came to light. But alas, that was but a cruel hoax carefully tailored by cunning scientists. Every now and again, we are forced to contemplate our origins when one or other archaeological discovery comes to light. Did Eve originate in Africa? Are we all descended from the Queen of Sheba? Was the earliest man who walked on two legs found in Central Asia? And it’s just as well that we have no conclusive answers. Because, if we did, that would take away some of the fun in newer discoveries.

There are, of course, the other great mysteries that we will never solve. What is the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle and how many ships have gone down the spout in those murky waters? Does the appearance of the Flying Dutchman signal treacherous weather? Did at least one of the lost tribes of Israel wash up in India’s north-east? Like the Kennedy murder, these are all questions we will probably never find answers to. But meanwhile, let’s keep up the search for more puzzles that we can spend years wracking our brains over.