Isn’t she cute? She’s our ancestor of sorts. At least those who have studied her svelte little body seem to think so. She is the most perfectly preserved fossil of an animal that is “linked” to humans ever found. Much better than “Lucy” found about 30 years ago by Don Johanson. Only about 60% of her was found, while we have 95% of Ida.
Darwinius Masillae is her quite formal name. She was about three feet tall, and was only 6 months old when she died. She lived in what is modern day Germany. At that time, the area was firmly in the grips of global warming and was a tropical rain forest. It was also highly volcanic, and it is surmised that Ida came down to drink and was overcome by noxious fumes and fell into the lake and drowned. She sunk to the bottom, and remained there for 47 million years.
Why she has excited the paleontological world to near hysteria, is that she may we be a transitional fossil, namely the one before the split between prosimians which gave us lemurs, those cute antic-prone animals who climb like monkeys but aren’t, and anthropoids, which gave us monkeys, apes and then US.
Ida seems a cross between the two groups. They checked her very thoroughly, and although she exhibits characteristics of the lemur family, she has neither the “toilet” claw used for grooming, nor the “comb” tooth, front bottom. So she is before the line split. She had fingernails like present day chimps and gorillas, and walked on all fours though she could stand up on two legs.
She lived in the trees, coming down for toilet and water. She fed on leaves and berries and nuts. They were able to identify the contents of her tummy as leaves and nuts I believe. It’s all quite wonderful to think about.
I am of the opinion that God created the universe by setting into motion the laws that would govern it along with the “stuff” of the big bang. He watched and watches it materialize. Some places the right stuff comes along at the right time and place, and live evolves, higher and higher if conditions are right.
I think God “hopes” that lots of life develops into sentience, because then he can truly interact with it. So I imagine that he was cheering on little Ida that day, and hoped the best for her and her kind. Being God, I guess he could project out the possible outcomes, so no doubt, Earth was a place that thereafter he kept an especially close eye on. We were a “promising” place.
What was shocking about learning about Ida, is the underbelly of this business of paleontology. One would like to think that all this stuff is conducted by universities and higher places of science. Sadly this is not the case, and is definitely not the same for antiquities either. Rather, privateers find a lot of this stuff and sell it to the highest bidder. Private collectors end up with some of it, and it can remain hidden from science and the world for decades.
Such happened to Ida. She was actually found back in 1986, and would have been sold to the highest bidder if not for the efforts of Jorn H. Hurum, from Norway. He collected over I believe, one million dollars, to buy the fossil and preserve it for the scientific community.
We saw a special on this Monday night I believe on the History Channel. A book entitled “The Link” is on sale now. What was all quite amusing to me, is that the brain-dead who argue that evolution is all a massive hoax perpetrated by millions of atheists, always complain that there are no transitional fossils as an argument. Of course that is shear nonsense on its face. But during the show, they interviewed a professor of paleontology I believe from Duke University. His speciality is “transitional” fossils and his collection is I think the largest in the world. I imagine he would be quite shocked to learn he was an expert in nothing!
To be fair, Ida is not a direct ancestor as such. She is more aunt than grandmother. But still, isn’t it grand to learn about how incredible God is in creating a universe that has such symmetrical beauty in it. Evolution proves too wonderfully that we are all in God and God is in all. We are all inextricably tied together in a beautiful symphony of DNA. It’s elegant to be sure, and something so very worthy of God.