Meet 'Ida': Our 47 Million Year Old Ancestor

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | May 19, 2009 1:30 pm

ida.pngToday an international team of scientists announced the discovery of a 47 million year old human ancestor found in the Messel Pit, Germany.  The European fossil is 95% complete, providing the most comprehensive understanding of the paleobiology of any Eocene primate yet. Named ‘Ida,‘ she was a young female with opposable big toes and a talus bone linking her directly to humans.

Read the full article available free at PLoS ONE

MORE ABOUT: ancestor, fossil, Ida

Comments (12)

  1. Linda

    Ida is amazing!

  2. Aidan

    That’s crazy awesome. What a find.

  3. Looks like it might be my Aunt Ida.


  4. Michael A. P.

    Hey … I wonder. If this is a primate. Then she got 48 crommosons.
    The human race have 46.

    How many times has nature gone backwords..?

  5. Before we jump to conlusions you should think about this,what if when the world was created that man was there, if animals were our ansestors than wouldn’t they be the ones living in houses, wouldn’t they be the ones working, but no. They eat off the floor and wag their tales when they are happy. Our brains are so much more complex, most likely this is just another animal that that crawled beside humans when the world began. so mabey you should think harder before you start saying that that thing is my great- grandmother

  6. SLC

    It should be noted that this story is being seriously over hyped according to PZed and Laelaps.

  7. Chris, I am surprised that your co-blogger Sheril did not find this one: The Dissing Link.

    But Ida has now shocked the scientific community even further for apparently coming out in favor of biblical creationism after an encounter with televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn.

    According to Hinn’s website, Ida met with Hinn and was healed of a chronic and painful wrist fracture (see photo below released by Hinn Ministries). The pastor convinced Ida that Darwin was wrong, prompting Ida to re-examine her entire existence.

    and this is just a tease.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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