Ida the “Missing Link?” – fact or science fiction?

What is Ida?

Ida is the oldest and most complete (~95%) primate fossil we have ever discovered. She is considered by scientists to be a 9 month old female haplorrhini buried in a lake bed about 47 million years ago. Haplorrhinies are dry nosed primates such as the Squirrel Monkey and… you guessed it, us humans, or “homo sapien sapiens.” In the classification system of the Animal Kingdom, the landscape for us and Ida looks like this:
ida human class

Why the Hype?
Remember that this year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday and the 150th year of the publication of “On the Origin of the Species.” Secular scientists have known about Ida for about 20 years, when it was found in a private collection. They have been systematically studying it for only the past few years and have timed the release for 2009 most likely to coincide with this seminal year of evolutionary science. The sensationalism around Ida will only grow. It is coming from journalists, scientific journalists and scientists themselves. In fact, Ida was released as a “media package” which includes an upcoming documentary, a website, a world tour and a myriad of popular magazine covers. Much attention will be paid to Ida over the next several months.

Scientifically, why is Ida important?
There are3 reasons Ida is an important scientific find:

1. She is a fossil of an extinct species. This always help shed light on the fullness of God’s creative acts. All He does glorifies Him, so all discoveries can be used to shed light on His Character.

2. She is an almost complete fossil. Fossils tend to be very, very incomplete. Often comprised of less than 10% of the total skeleton. Half jaw bones, a few teeth and parts of a limb are standard fare in paeleontology.

3. She has characteristics of two types of primate, those of the first suborder of Strepsirrhini and those of the second, Haplorrhini. This is the main reason much will be made of Ida, she appears to cross or transition two suborders of primate.

Is Ida proof of evolution?
Ida is being touted with a title no less enormous than THE missing link. Other declarations have been that Ida is the “rosetta stone” of the fossil world and even the “holy grail of paeleontology.” But is this fact or fiction? Remember that the missing link is the search for the one species that ALL humans, apes and extinct bipeds such as neanderthal and australopithecus afarensis share. Currently, all known fossils are considered cousins, but NOT direct ancestors. Evolutionists would love nothing more than to hold up a species and say, “we have our first direct ancestor to humans, shared by gorillas and all other hominids.” Ida is being touted as such. But does the science hold up?

What ever happened to “Lucy?”
You may remember that in November of 1974 a fossil named “Lucy” was discovered and considered a 3.2 million year old Australopithecus Afarensis. About %40 of her skeleton was discovered:
lucyBecause Lucy was “only“ 3.2 million years in our past, and she was an upright ape, she was touted as a prime candidate for the missing link. As of today, however, she is no longer placed in our direct ancestry line. She is considered to be yet another extinct primate of the hominid family (that’s our family) but not a direct ancestor or missing link that would connect all modern apes and humans. Now this is very interesting. Because with all of the fossil finds we have made and put into the hominid family, we still do not see the evolutionary establishment daring to claim to have a direct ancestor. This is where the intelligent design argument begins to step in and observe that we see common design between the great apes, but we cannot establish common ancestry. Try as we might. Mammals all share common features and within the apes the similarities to humans peak, but this is not, and never has been, proof of COMMON ANCESTRY IN AN EVOLUTIONARY TIMELINE. It points to one thing and one thing only: common design.
lucy human timeline

What ever happened to “Neanderthal Man?”
Up until the earlier part of the 2000’s, the neanderthal man was highly expected to be the direct ancestor to modern humans. First of all, he pre-dated modern humans by only two hundred thousand years. Second, no other fossil find has ever been so close in time, location and body structure to humans. Several specimens spread throughout Africa, Europe and Mesopotamia underwent rigorous and complete genomic mapping. The conclusion? No direct ancestry between neanderthal man and humans. This fact has not circulated very broadly in the popular media. In fact, if we observe the attention neanderthal received in documentaries, popular film, popular magazines, classroom hours in elementary, high school, college levels, t-shirts, and all other facets of our society’s collective consciousness during the years in which he was believed to be THE missing link, we’ll see a fossil elevated to the status of cultural icon. But if we then look at the amount of circulation given to the news that neanderthal man had NOTHING to do with human ancestry, you’ll see an incredible silence. It appeared no one was excited to see neanderthal man dethroned. Interestingly, he is no longer referred to as neanderthal man, he has been demoted to simple neandertal.

The hearts and minds of secular culture are set on establishing man as descending from apes and not from our Heavenly Father. A very sad commentary on what awaits man apart from God. Man willfully debases himself and yearns to commune and partake of the animal world instead of his Divine Home, Heritage and Maker.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
-Romans 1:20-25

You didn’t answer the question! Is Ida proof of evolution?

She isn’t.
If neither Lucy or neandertal is a direct ancestor, why would a monkey that is incredibly more distant on the timeline (~45 millions years older than even Lucy) and in skeletal structure to modern humans and apes be deemed a sureshot missing link? The answer is not going to be found in the science. The answer will be found in the hopes and aspirations (that is, the imagination) of Darwinian evolutionists.
Yes, it is true that Ida’s body is partly of one suborder of primate and other parts (e.g.: heel and foot bones, teeth, fingernails) are of another suborder. But so what? Some marsupials (order of the kangaroo) have skeletons essentially indistinguishable from modern dogs. Yet both these species belong to entirely different orders, families, genuses and species of mammals. No evolutionary link is made between them. Ida has characteristics of both of the two suborders within the order of primates. But before we get too carried away, let us remember that our classification system is man-made. We take what see in the world and in the fossil record, look at similaritties and then make groups based on our limited samples. Even in the absence of new fossil finds, these groups are not written in stone and have a history of being constantly tweeked and changed. These classifications carry a good deal of “art” on top of “science.” Do not forget that when we found neanderthalensis, we thought we’d struck gold in the world of transitional fossils and direct ancestry. But due to our genome study of both humans and neanderthalensis, we know that similarity does not mean ancestry. It simply means… similarity. The more fossils we find, the more we see that the big picture is:

1. sudden appearance of distinct groups of body plans (e.g.: aquatic animals, birds, mammals, bipeds, etc) far too sudden for evolutionary timelines.
2. stasis: these groups do not morph beyond a very limited range of body plans.
3. these groups are distinct and do not have an army of “slow bleed” transitional skeletons connecting them to other groups (e.g.: fish to mammal fossils, or even fossils linking mammal phylums or orders together.)

In order to see anything remotely close to Darwinian “slow bleed” from one species to another, we have to look within suborders of animals. And even then we do not see evolutionists make black and white claims of direct ancestry, but indirect ancestry. When we back away from these suborders more and more we see significant gaps appearing between the orders and especially between the classes of the Animal Kingdom.

What Ida IS
* Ida is possibly the oldest primate fossil ever found.
* Ida is possibly the most clompete primate fossil ever found.
* Ida will shed light on variety within primate order.
* Ida is best classified as a Haplorrhini primates, even though she has some shared features with Strepsirrhini primates.
What Ida IS NOT
* Ida is NOT close to humans in body structure.
* Ida is NOT close to any hominid in body structure.
* Ida is NOT able to provide any scientific (e.g.: DNA-based) evidence confirming beyond doubt her direct ancestry to any hominids, let alone humans.
* Ida is NOT conclusive for either Intelligent Design proponents or Darwinian Evolution proponents. She is simply another extinct primate.

4 thoughts on “Ida the “Missing Link?” – fact or science fiction?

  1. Evolution doesn’t really need Ida to prove a point. Genome sequencing has pretty much done the job of proving evolution is a reality. For instance, we can actually trace the moment of merger that accounts for the different in chromosomes between us and the great apes in our genetic structure.

    And while Ida may not be THE missing link, she is still a missing link in our prehistory. Whether she is a direct ancestor or not is irrelevant.

  2. If by genome sequencing you mean paralleling the similarities between ape DNA and human DNA, you are merely invoking the same argument as common skeleton design. The argument of similarity. This is as impotent as Ida in convincing mankind scientifically of evolution’s reality.

    Thank you for your comment.

  3. Nope, not what I mean at all. I mean the actual sequencing of DNA that demonstrates where the genetic shift occurred that created the split between ape and homo sapiens, which accounts for the different numbers of chromosomes both species have. The argument has been for a long while that we can’t be related due to that, and that evolution would be wrong if there was no evidence of a merger of chromosomes in our own genetic structure, but we’ve actually discovered that the merger exists, and exactly where it occurs in the merged chromosome. And through that we can trace it backwards to a point of reference (i.e. a certain space of time when that change is most likely to have occurred).

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter how much scientific evidence scientists dig up to support evolution; the public will likely never completely accept it due to ignorance. It would be unfair to argue that average people have any idea how evolution or more scientific theories actually work. They don’t. Most barely even understand the most basic physics principles. I don’t think this will change anytime soon. People will either just accept evolution without studying it on their own (or in school), which is about as stupid as accepting anything else blindly, or evolution will remain firmly rooted in the sciences.

  4. I would have to disagree with this statement:
    “he actual sequencing of DNA that demonstrates where the genetic shift occurred that created the split between ape and homo sapiens, which accounts for the different numbers of chromosomes both species have.”

    Such a procedure does not tell us that the apes have common descent with man.

    What it shows is where man’s genetic library differs from that of the ape subfamily.

    You can no more prove common descent through mapping the differences in DNA than you can prove a tricycle evolved into a BMW road bike by pointing to common design.

    Common design = true.
    Common ancestry = unproven.

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