This morning, scientists revealed an analysis of a female skeleton that seems to be the best example of early hominids around, about a million years older than the famous Lucy specimen that has been a prime example of early humanoids for about 40 years. New species Ardipithecus ramidus, which scientists nicknamed "Ardi," lived in the woodlands of present-day Ethiopia and had a blend of human and chimplike features.
The phrase "missing link" first appeared in print only four years after the publication of The Origin of the Species. By the end of that year, legendary paleontologist Richard Owen published a description of the fossil Archaeopteryx, the first specimen to carry that moniker. And with that, the concept of a "missing link" embedded itself in the popular imagination.
With missing links again thrust hastily and breathlessly into the spotlight again with the History Channel's hyped-through-the-roof unveiling of Ida, "the most important find in 47 million years," a look at missing links throughout history may help put things in perspective.
The term "missing link" first appearing in its modern connotation in 1863, and unfortunately, 146 years later, it hasn't lost any of its power. Yesterday, amid massive media coverage, the American Museum of Natural History, a team of European paleontologists, and the History Channel unveiled a spectacularly preserved primate fossil that they dubbed "the eighth wonder of the world."