A new "missing link" find that could prove to be more credible

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It didn’t have a TV special, book deal or media-friendly pimping from the mayor of New York City, but a 12 million-year-old skull recently unearthed in Spain just might end up actually deserving the label of “missing link.”

The skull possesses a combination of primitive features previously unseen in a primate, along with a flat, anatomically modern face — the earliest such face in the fossil record. These characteristics qualified it as the founding member of a new genus and species, Anoiapithecus brevirostris.

The findings, described Monday in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, follow in the wake of Ida, a fossil lemur whose made-for-TV hype far outpaced its scientific value. But A. brevirostris, despite its lack of fanfare, may be far more significant.

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