Missing Link


When discussing evolution, the Missing Link is most often a reference to a creature that existed in pre-historic times that was between the evolution of a lower form animal and a human.

Missing link is a non-scientific term for any transitional fossil, especially a transitional fossil that is connected with the concept of human evolution.

The term was first used in a scientific context by Charles Lyell in the third edition (1851) of his book Elements of Geology in relation to missing parts of the geological column, but it was popularized in its present meaning by its appearance on page xi of his book Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man of 1863. By that time it was generally thought that the end of the last glacial period marked the first appearance of humanity, but Lyell drew on new findings in his Antiquity of Man to put the origin of human beings much further back in the deep geological past. L yell wrote that it remained a profound mystery how the huge gulf between man and beast could be bridged. Lyell's vivid writing fired the public imagination, inspiring Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The idea of a "missing link" between humans and so-called "lower" animals remains lodged in the public imagination. The search for a fossil showing transitional traits between apes and humans, however, was fruitless until the young Dutch geologist Eugène Dubois found a skullcap, a molar and a femur on the banks of Solo River, Java in 1891. The find combined a low, ape-like skull roof with a brain estimated at around 1000 cc, midway between that of a chimpanzee and an adult man. The single molar was larger than any modern human tooth, but the femur was long and straight, with a knee angle showing that "Java man" had walked upright. Given the name Pithecanthropus erectus ("erect ape-man"), it became the first in what is now a long list of human evolution fossils. At the time it was hailed by many as the "missing link", helping set the term as primarily used for human fossils, though it is sometimes used for other intermediates, like Archaeopteryx.

"Missing link" is still a popular term, well recognized by the public and often used in the popular media. It is, however, often avoided in the scientific press. The term itself is misleading, as any known transitional fossil, like Java Man, is no longer missing. Therefore, how could the fossil be termed a “missing” link. While each find will give rise to new gaps in the evolutionary story on each side, the discovery of more and more transitional fossils continues to add to our knowledge of evolutionary transitions.

Much of the above listed information (the scientific sounding studd) is from Wikipedia (we have made a few tweaks).  To learn more about a Transitional Fossil, check the Wikipedia page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_fossil

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Cyclops I love Myself
Have you ever wondered why humans are more advanced then animals? Maybe the missing link plays a role (or maybe it doesn’t).