Darwinius masillae gets out of control


Can’t help but feel that this is getting a little silly. Darwinius masillae is a nice beautifully preserved specimen, it’s an interesting specimen, but it’s not THE missing link. Bora has complete links to the media circus while Ed Yong puts it all in perspective.

For more on this, see:

  • The original paper: Franzen JL, Gingerich PD, Habersetzer J, Hurum JH, von Koenigswald W, Smith BH (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
  • PZ Myers over at the Panda’s Thumb.
  • John Wilkins on missing links and ancestors.
  • Carl Zimmer asks the question, does Darwinius even exist? It appears that PLoS may not count as a valid venue to publish taxonomic work.

Somewhat predictably, Matt Nisbet approves of this “innovative strategy“. Given that, this quote by Phil Gingerich in The Australian is of interest:

[O]ne of Dr Hurum’s co-authors, University of Michigan paleontologist Philip Gingerich, said the team would have preferred to publish in a more rigorous journal such as Science or Nature.

Dr Gingerich told The Wall Street Journal: “There was a TV company involved and time pressure. We’ve been pushed to finish the study. It’s not how I like to do science”.

Media-driven science with a book, movie & website. Nisbet’s “going broad” strategy has seen the light of day. Just what we need.


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