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Re: node fossil
Maybe you weren't too far off with "keystone", though.
Well, there's only one keystone in every arch... the one thing that
really annoys me about the term "missing link" is that it implies
there's _one_ link between two monolithic groups, while in reality there
are long transitional series. Which is the missing link between early
Eocene artiodactyls and whales? Everything: Raoellidae, *Pakicetus*,
*Ichthyolestes*, *Nalacetus*, *Himalayacetus*, *Artiocetus*,
*Ambulocetus*, *Rodhocetus*, and so on for a quarter of an hour when,
having passed *Basilosaurus* and *Dorudon*, we might reach *Chrysocetus*
(which came out as the sister-group of the crown group in a recent
analysis -- I don't know anything else about it). As mentioned:
everything is transitional, everything is morphologically intermediate.
That's an argument I use a lot when talking to Unmentionables in the
blogosphere: the similarity of living beings is arranged in a tree shape.
Several decades ago, the fact that, once discovered, a "missing link" is
no longer missing annoyed some German so much that he invented the term
"connecting link" (English in the original). It has found some limited
usage by Germans, but still suffers from the big problem explained above.
How about "bridge" specimens?