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Re: Missing Link?

On Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 10:36 AM, Ian Paulsen <birdbooker@zipcon.net> wrote:
> ÂI have seen a number of press stories recently with the term Missing
> Link used in the headline or elsewhere in the story. Does using that term 
> bother
> Paleontologists? I recall reading somewhere that the term is inaccurate.

It's better than "living fossil", which is almost meaningless.

If we interpret "link" as "ancestor between us and another ancestor",
then it's useless, since we can't determine ancestry for certain in
the fossil record. If you interpret it as "ancestor or close relative
of an ancestor", then it's not so bad -- the only problem is the
"missing" part, which is pretty obviously false if we're talking about
a discovered fossil!

What really bugs me is that people talk about "THE" missing link, as
if there's only one link (usually, between humans and all other life
-- a very egocentric species we are). Properly considered, *every
single organism* is a link (with the possible exception of those with
no offspring, but see the above loose definition). Just about every
fossil we find is going to be a link between something and something
else (although we might be missing one or more adjoining "links"). So
in that sense, the term is also pretty useless.
T. Michael Keesey
Technical Consultant and Developer, Internet Technologies
Glendale, California