Scientists piece together human ancestry





Scientists hailed Tuesday a 47-million-year-old fossil of an ancient "small cat"-sized primate as a possible common ancestor of monkeys, primates and humans.

Scientists say the fossil, dubbed "Ida," is a transitional species, living around the time the primate lineage split into two groups: A line that would eventually produce humans, primates and monkeys, and another that would give rise to lemurs and other primates.

The fossil was formally named Darwinius masillae, in honor of the anniversary of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday.

The fossil was discovered in 1983 in the Messel Pit, Germany, near Frankfurt, and had been until recently in private collections, according to an article published Tuesday in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, a publication of the Public Library of Science.



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