getting to know ida


“Ida” is a beautiful fossil. A few weeks ago, she became a very famous one, when the squashed-flat remains of this squirrel-sized creature that lived some 47 million years ago, in quasi-tropical forest around a crater lake in what is now Germany, were pictured on every medium known to mankind. Overcome by exhalations of volcanic gas from the lake’s depths, and apparently already weakened by injury, Ida had fallen in and found herself preserved, along with the bodies of a remarkable variety of other animals, in the accumulating muds of the lake floor. Like us, Ida was a member of the zoological group known as the Primates. Today, there are two major kinds of primate in the world: the very successful “higher” ones, consisting of monkeys and apes along with ourselves; and the now largely marginalized “lower” primates that include the lemurs of Madagascar and the lorises, pottos and bushbabies of the tropical Old World.

more from Ian Tattersall at the TLS here.