Who Is Ida?
Ida is a 47 million year old, perfectly preserved primate recovered from the Messel Pit in Germany.
Ida is the most complete early primate fossil ever found, and scientists believe that she could be one of our earliest
ancestors. She is a remarkable link between the first primates and modern humans and despite having
lived 47 million years ago, her features show striking similarities to our own.
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For 150 years, scientists have debated the course of our evolutionary journey from tree-dwelling primate to modern Homo sapiens.
When Darwin put forward the theory of evolution in his book On The Origin of Species, he suggested that there were transitional species linking humans with the rest of animal life.
Since Darwin's time, palaeontologists have made important discoveries of fossils that have begun to uncover our prehistoric ancestry. Best known of these fossils is Lucy, a hominid who lived around 3.2 million years ago at the time when our ancestors started walking upright. But before Lucy there are massive gaps in the fossil record, and scientists have only had fragments of fossils to study.
Scientists have long hoped that the Earth might eventually yield an even more ancient fossil that links apes, man and all other primates to the earliest mammals on the planet. Now Ida is rewriting the history of our earliest origins. She is the most complete primate fossil ever found and has proto-anthropoid features, placing her at the base of the anthropoid branch which leads to monkeys, apes, and humans. Here at last, 150 years after the publication of On The Origin of Species, we have the link that connects us directly with the rest of the animal kingdom.