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Re: Darwin's young dead pet from Messel



Of particular importance to phylogenetic studies, the absence of a toilet claw and a toothcomb demonstrates that Darwinius masillae is not simply a fossil lemur, but part of a larger group of primates, Adapoidea, representative of the early haplorhine diversification.

Don't ask me how that got through peer review. The logic of this is just backwards. These are plesiomorphies; only the "is not simply a fossil lemur" part is defensible.


But... the singular feminine -ae ending means "[masillae]" is dedicated to
Miss or Mrs [Masilla], while the correct species name should have been
"messelensis", the ending -ensis being added to the radical whatever its
gender if it is a locality name.

I would like to know how such a mispelled species name could have been
overlooked at the beginning of the 21st century...

No, the name is fine. It's simply a genitive and can without problems be interpreted as meaning "of Messel". There is no word "of" in Classical Latin (_de_, which took over that function in the Romance languages, meant only "about": _de bello gallico_ = "about the Gaulish war"). Making an adjective in -ensis would be unambiguous, but that's not necessary.


(In case you're wondering why the Early Medieval name _Masilla_ differs from the modern _Messel_, it's because about 1000 years ago we... basically... stopped liking it when the vowels of a word are too different.)