A 47-million-year-old fossil is being touted as "groundbreaking discovery" that "fills in a critical gap in human and primate evolution."
"The fossil's remarkable state of preservation allows an unprecedented glimpse into early human evolution," say producers of "The Link," a documentary set to premiere next Monday that details the discovery and significance of the fossil.
"[I]t represents the moment before anthropoid primates – the group that would later evolve into humans, apes and monkeys – began to split from lemurs and other prosimian primates," they add.
But many experts say the discovery of the 47 million-year-old cat-sized creature found in Germany is far from the breakthrough that it's believed to be.
Though they've praised the discovery for the level of detail it provided – as it is about 95 percent complete, including even fingertips with nails, gut contents, and hair – experts say the creature is not close to the ancestral line of monkeys, let alone people.
And that goes double for Young Earth Creationists, who believe God created everything as it appears today and did so over the span of six 24-hour days.
They say claims that a "missing link" has been found or a "critical gap" in evolution has been filled only prove one thing – that there still are missing links and critical gaps up to that point and thereafter as such discoveries have skeptics even among the scientific community.
"Evolutionists only open up about the lack of fossil missing links once a new one is found," notes Answers in Genesis, a self-described apologetics ministry that believes in Young Earth Creationism.
"[T]he best 'missing links' evolutionists can come up with are strikingly similar to organisms we see today, usually with the exception of minor, controversial, and inferred anatomical differences," the ministry wrote Tuesday on its website.
"If evolution were true, there would be real transitional forms," it argued.
The ministry described much of the excitement over the fossil, dubbed "Ida," as simply the result of a well-coordinated public relations effort to promote the upcoming documentary, "The Link," and a new book of the same name.
The documentary will air on the History Channel in the United States as "The Link" on May 25 and on BBC One in the United Kingdom as "Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor: The Link" on May 26.
Formally identified as "Darwinius masillae," in honor of Charles Darwin, the fossil was discovered more than two decades ago in Messel Pit, Germany, and didn't surface until Jorn Hurum from the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum uncovered it through a chance encounter with a fossil dealer in Hambur.
"Ida" is the most complete primate fossil that has ever been found and will be on display in the "Extreme Mammals" exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.