The Guardian (19th May 2009) quoted Sir David Attenborough: this little creature is going to show our connection with all other mammals. Google changed it’s home page icon to reflect the find. On 21 May 2009, the Daily Mail trumpeted Scientists find the 'missing link': A 47million-year-old lemur that could revolutionise how we see human evolution.
But also on 21 May, the New Scientist published an article Why Ida fossil is not the missing link. On 24th May, the Times weighed in with Origin of the Specious: Ida the fossil was hailed as the ‘missing link’ in our evolution. Don’t believe the hype
Because it was hype. The early enthusiasm for the “missing link” idea was based on press releases and media rights rather than scholarly content and careful analysis. Ida was dug up in 1983 and reportedly one of the protagonists had bought her for a large sum of money – which he was presumably trying to recoup. She is an amazing fossil, but later and more sober assessment appears to have concluded that she adds almost nothing to our understanding of human evolution.
We can do without this kind of thing. If science is going to work at all it requires a critical mass of integrity. Once again, as with NASA climate change data, not only does that integrity appears to have been lacking, but also the perpetrators appear to have escaped any significant censorship