Period of life: 47 MYA
Habitat: Bushlands, savannas
Length: 0.58 m
Darwinius is a lemur-like primate inhabited Germany territory 47 million years ago. Remains were recovered in 1983 at the Messel pit, a discontinued quarry adjacent the Messel village. Its skeleton was dismembered and sold in parts. In 2006 Norwegian paleontologist Jørn Hurum saw exhibited upper part of primate put up for sale for $1 million. Inspired by the idea to acquire this specimen he persuaded the Natural History Museum of Oslo management to buy the animal remains. In 2009 the split skeleton was reinstated thanks to the second part American owners disclosed it to the world. It was named Ida after the Norwegian scientist daughter.
The genus Darwinius was named to honor Charles Darwin's 200th birthday. The furred animal body was about 58 cm long. The hind limbs with ape-like feet were longer than forelimbs. Generally all limbs, skull and teeth structure resembled those of primitive primates. It had forward-facing eyes on the skull front part and binocular vision respectively. Jagged molars improved leaves, seeds and grass grinding. The animal lived only in the trees. Its long nailed digits on all four limbs helped Darwinius to climb and hold on trees. Its long tail provided the animal with good balance when moving and jumping.
According to scientists Darwinius was actually related to strepsirrhine primates group - lemurs and alike. And, despite of Norwegian paleontologist Hurum opinion, it was not an ancestor of modern humans.
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