Barely a few hours had passed since the initial press conference, when the first critical voices were raised from the scientific community. While unanimously agreeing that Ida was a fabulous fossil, they claimed that the significance of the fossil and the vocabulary used during the launch were exaggerated.

- I cannot accept any allegations that we have produced ”bad science”. The scientific article received the same kind of peer review as other scientific articles do, and our team includes some of the world’s foremost scientists in their fields, says Hurum.

- But we are fully aware that we may be mistaken. We think we are right – but we may be wrong. This is the hallmark of science: It is a perpetual conversation and exchange of viewpoints and results. Ida will be studied for at least a decade to come, and if later investigations show that our conclusions were imprecise or inaccurate, we accept it.

The use of the expressions "The Link" and "missing link" in titles and press handouts has also been criticised. It has been said that this gives the impression that the theory of evolution has a weaker standing than what is actually the case, and thus becomes grist for the mill of Darwin’s detractors.

- A couple of the slogans which met me on my way in to the first press conference – things like "This changes everything" – caught me somewhat off guard, and went further than I personally would have done. But there wasn’t much I could do about it then and there, says Hurum.

However, he stands by the use of the expression "missing link", referring particularly to Donald Johanson, the discoverer of the fossil Lucy in 1974. In the movie "The Link" he says:

- Every link in the evolutionary chain is a missing link until it's found. And then it's not missing anymore.

Published June 23, 2010 1:02 PM - Last modified Jan. 13, 2015 4:13 PM