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chyna's avatar

Does anyone know why the 47 million year old skeleton was actually found in 1983 and kept secret until now?

Asked by chyna (40561points) May 19th, 2009

I saw that on the news tonight, but can’t seem to find out why they kept it a secret.

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30 Answers

eponymoushipster's avatar

it wasn’t a secret. Larry King has been on TV for 20+ years, and radio before that.

cwilbur's avatar

Googling for “47 million year old skeleton 1983” informed me that though it was found in 1983, the significance was not realized, and that it wasn’t really kept secret so much as that an article about it was just published, and there’s a TV documentary in the works, so they had a press conference.

It probably spent a while languishing in a university fossil collection before someone realized what it was; once that happened, I suspect that, because this sort of thing is the sort of thing that can make or break an academic career, everyone proceeded very carefully.

lillycoyote's avatar

Apparently it was in the possession of a private collector until a couple of years ago, when the researcher was shown a picture of it at a “fossil fair” At least that’s what it says here. http://www.revealingthelink.com/ I suppose if it as significant as they say it is I would imagine the researchers wanted to make sure they had all their scientific ducks in a row before they released their findings. I don’t think there’s too much significance to the secrecy surrounding it.

RedPowerLady's avatar

So what is the significance of this skeleton?
(pardon me for asking instead of thinking or researching)

lillycoyote's avatar

@RedPowerLady I only just heard of this today through this question and it separating the science from the hype might take a while, particularly since I really know nothing, so here is a summary that I am lazily pasting from the site above
________________________________________________________________

As a primate, Ida is part of our own order, and able to throw light on our own ancestry. She comes from a highly significant age — the time when the anthropoids, our own subgroup of primates, were branching off from the prosimians.

Put everything together and Ida’s significance becomes clear: uniquely well preserved; from an era of key significance in primate evolution; and complete enough to help us rewrite our understanding of the primate family tree. Ida helps tell us who we really are and where we come from. We are all descended from Ida’s kind.

chyna's avatar

Perhaps intending to further prove the theory of evolution.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Well… Holy shit. Cool! I didn’t know about this until I just read the question. Very, very interesting and I can’t wait to watch the shows they’ll have about her.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@lillycoyote So Ida is a monkey? Or more of an “early human”? And I’m guessing this is important because they haven’t discovered something so advanced that early in history yet? My apologies. Still a bit confused. I’m trying to sort through the site now.

@chyna I believe so but I’m not quite sure how it fits in with it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@RedPowerLady Yes, she was a lemur. She is what scientists think will prove our evolutionary process as human beings. Until now, something was always missing and we weren’t able to actually prove that we descended from any kind of ape or money. Ida has opposable thumbs and forward-facing eyes.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DrasticDreamer So I read a little bit more and understand she has two sets of characteristics. Although the scientific terms for them confound me a bit.
Does any other animal have two sets of characteristics similar to her? Do humans?

I really have yet to understand why it is so significant. Don’t monkeys have opposable thumbs and forward facing eyes? It is significant because it is a lemur with those traits? In fact don’t lemurs have forward facing eyes.

Call me an imbecile if you must.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@RedPowerLady It’s significant because Ida has what are called transitional pieces – the thumbs and forward-facing eyes, in this specific instance. Transitional pieces are the physical attributes that were newly developing in primates – called “anthropoid evolution” and are what were believed to be the key features that would later evolve into our own.

So Ida comes from a time when these opposable thumbs and forward-facing eyes were new to primates. It was suspected by many, for a very long time, that people somehow came from some kind of ape or monkey, but the link – the transitional pieces – in the evolutionary ladder, were missing. Until now. :)

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Just in case that wasn’t clear: Basically, we found fossils that did not have these transitional pieces – before they started to develop, and we found fossils after these transitional pieces developed. What we didn’t have until now (the missing link), are fossils that were in transition from point A to point B.

Make sense? I’m not the best at describing things… lol

filmfann's avatar

@chyna btw you’re topics list includes dinasours. Aren’t those the skittle like candies that were in the shapes of dinosaurs?

chyna's avatar

@filmfann ha! I’m a horrible speller.

filmfann's avatar

@chyna yes, but you gave me a great idea for a new snack!

oratio's avatar

They didn’t keep it a secret. Sometimes they don’t see the significance of the fossil, and it takes a long time to piece together and examine. There is so much fossil, and they can’t all be significant. Some can lie in the archives for decades before looked at a second time.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

ack! deja vu weirdness since I swear I read this post and some of the same answers from a few jellies yesterday

DrasticDreamer's avatar

This is the official website, for anyone who is interested. It has a lot of details: http://www.revealingthelink.com/

oratio's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Great link! Thanks.
@hungryhungryhortence I see. Missed the earlier Q

DarkScribe's avatar

It was simply that they didn’t realise it was dead – they thought that it was just a bit under the weather and sent it to hospital. As it didn’t have any medical insurance they put in the queue. It got to the front of the queue last week and after a few days they came to a consensus. On a vote of 6 to 4 they agreed that it was not sick, it was dead.

chyna's avatar

@DarkScribe Well thank goodness it wasn’t Larry King. They would have buried him long ago.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@DarkScribe that’s Dick Clark.

Crusader's avatar

Why a secret? To create a sensationalistic propagando, justifying further liberal extremist agendas…

eponymoushipster's avatar

propogando is my favorite gelato flavor.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Crusader Yes, secret propaganda is usually the most effective kind.

RedPowerLady's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Yes that makes sense. Thank you.

filmfann's avatar

It’s really my skeleton, found at the controls of the time machine I have yet to build.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@filmfann you have no idea how jealous I am of your tail.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@filmfann but by telling us this, you’ve altered the timeline. unless this is….an alternate reality!

DUN DUN DUN

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