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Google goes ape for 'missing link'
Posted By Joe Kovacs On 05/20/2009 @ 9:26 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Google’s home page logo May 20, 2009, reflected the discovery of a fossil some claim is a “missing link” in the evolutionary theory.
Internet giant Google, which has become famous for celebrating as well as ignoring holidays on its home page, is going ape over the supposed discovery of a “missing link” in the evolution theory.
The search engine adorned its home page today with a special design, known as a “Google doodle,” featuring an image of the lemur-like fossil that has been studied in secret for years and was unveiled to the world yesterday.
The online firm not only posted the image helping to spell out its name, it also linked the drawing to scores of results on the Web proclaiming the missing link has finally been found.
“Google doesn’t usually like missing links, but it has made an honorable exception with its latest Google doodle,” noted Britain-based PC Advisor.
WND contacted Google regarding its reasoning behind the design, asking if the company feels the discovery is somehow proof that mankind evolved from lower forms of life.
Google spokeswoman Heather Laird Spain responded:
We have a group of Googlers that select the doodles that appear on Google. We gather ideas for doodles from Googlers and from our users. The doodle selection process aims to celebrate interesting events and anniversaries around the world that reflect Google’s personality and love of innovation.
Although we are aware that our list of doodles is not exhaustive, we try to select doodles that show creativity and innovation in a fun, quirky way. Generally, we choose doodles from a variety of categories, such as those that celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives (and in this, the discoveries) of artists and inventors.
Darwinius masillae, the fossil known as “Ida”
As WND reported, a media blizzard that began yesterday made it seem that suddenly there was demonstrable evidence for evolution.
“This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals. This is the one that connects us directly with them,” trumpeted Britain’s nature television star Sir David Attenborough about the Darwinius masillae fossil, nicknamed “Ida.”
“Now people can say, ‘OK, we are primates, show us the link,’” Attenborough said. “The link they would have said up to now is missing – well, it’s no longer missing.”
But not everyone is jumping on the monkey-man bandwagon.
Chris Beard, curator of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and author of “The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey,” said he was “awestruck” by the publicity machine surrounding the new fossil.
He indicated Ida would be “a welcome new addition” to the world of early primates, but added “I would be absolutely dumbfounded if it turns out to be a potential ancestor to humans.”
History is replete with discoveries initially proclaimed as some sort of missing link, but later proved to be hoaxes.
One of the most notable fabrications took place in the last decade. In October 1999, National Geographic held a news conference unveiling the “Archaeoraptor fossil.” It was supposedly the remains of an ancient fish-eating bird and was hailed as the missing evolutionary link between carnivorous dinosaurs and modern birds.
By February 2000, though, National Geographic Editor Bill Allen told Nature magazine he was “furious” to learn the fossil had been faked.
“It was fairly quickly exposed as bogus, a composite containing the head and body of a primitive bird and the tail and hind limbs of a dromaeosaur dinosaur, glued together by a Chinese farmer,” noted National Geographic in 2002.
In 1953, the “Piltdown Man” went from being one of the biggest discoveries of the 20th century to being “its greatest scientific embarrassment.” According to the BBC, the fossils discovered 40 years earlier and acclaimed as the “missing link” between apes and humans were finally revealed to be forgeries.
In 1922, the now infamous “Nebraska Man” was another case of evolutionary speculation as some scientists, though not all, hailed the finding of a tooth to be part of a transitional form between apes and men. It turned out the tooth belonged to a wild pig.
“There is a lot of media hype right now, and the claim is that this
is a missing link, this is it: the evidence of evolution,” said Ken
Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, in connection with this week’s hype over Ida.
But Ham pointed to a line in the scientific report on the Ida
findings – published in the online journal Public Library of
Science One – that countered the bold claims made by Attenborough and
others in the news.
“[The species] could represent a stem group from which later
anthropoid primates evolved [the line leading to humans],” states the
report, “but we are not advocating this here.”
The British newspaper the Guardian also reports that scientific
reviewers of the research asked that others “tone down” claims that the
fossil was on the human evolutionary line.
“The reviewers said we don’t know this is a missing link, and they
asked the people who wrote [the newspaper reports] to tone it down,”
Ham told WND, “and yet we have this media hype claiming this is it,
this is the missing link.”
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