Not again…

24 August 2007

National Geographic is reporting on the Choroapithecus abyssinicus, with this nails-on-the chalkboard headline: “New Fossil Ape May Shatter Human Evolution Theory.” Guys. Come on?

The shattering find: a 10 million year-old african ape that may push the human-gorilla split back well before what genetic studies have predicted, appearing in this week’s Nature (abstract here).

Two weeks ago we were “questioning” and now we’re “shattering” human evolution??? By finding ancient fossils that shed new light on the radiation and ramification of our clade? It’s enough to make you want to cover your body in hoodia diet patches and wait for the rapture.

Pharyngula and Afarensis have already taken this horribly sloppy headline writing to task, while John Hawks strikes back with an equally ambitious, but not blatantly false, headline: Did Gen Suwa just save paleoanthropology?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a letter to write.

One Response to “Not again…”

  1. laelaps Says:

    This new study reminds me of the whole Hesperopithecus nonsense that occurred because of Osborn’s desire to show up William Jennings Bryan. Not that I’m saying that the teeth in this new report are fake or pig’s teeth, but given how much teeth can different and undergo convergence, the headlines really blew things out of proportion. The disparity is almost as if I had bought some of those capsules that dissolve in hot water to let loose a little sponge dinosaur and someone reported “College student grows dinosaurs in bathroom sink! Desires to rule the world!”

    I’m just wondering when some of the people who pen these types of headlines will be fired and replaced by science bloggers, which would be a vast improvement.


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