Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bones, Fossils & Theory

The discovery in the Wairarapa of a European woman’s skull dating from the 17th century challenges the claim that Abel Tasman was the first from that continent here. The theory being advanced is that Dutch officials often brought their wives out to their East Indies stations. Off-course a boat could have wrecked off that coast. It is extremely unlikely that we will ever know what did happen to the poor woman.

Even more dramatic is the announcement of the finding of a 47 million year fossil which adds more information about primate evolution and eventually human evolution. Indeed it has been called the missing link. The lemur-like skeleton features primate characteristics such as grasping hands, opposable thumbs, nails instead of claws and relatively short limbs.

The exciting and unique feature of this fossil is its completeness. Most fossils are only a few scattered remnants. The other intriguing feature is its discovery in Germany. The assumption has been to date that Africa was the continent where primate evolution took place.

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