Fossil Find May Tweak Evolution Debate

A primate skeleton claimed to be 47 million years old could further amplify the often contentious debate between evolutionists and creationists.

A prominent paleontologist says the discovery of the ancient primate fossil suggests the creature is the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The find bolsters the less-popular stance that humans' ape-like ancestor was a precursor to the lemur - the tarsier, a tiny, bug-eyed primate in Asia, is more commonly thought of as the precursor, the Journal reports.

Dr. Philip Gingerich, the president-elect of the Paleontological Society in the U.S., will discuss the findings next week in an online journal. The fossil will be unveiled next week at New York's Museum of Natural History.

"This discovery brings a forgotten group into focus as a possible ancestor of higher primates," Mr. Gingerich, a professor of paleontology at the University of Michigan, told the Journal.

While the fossil doesn't relate to the more heated debate over whether chimpanzees and humans share a common identity - the fossil is not the so-called "missing link" - the two factions will likely pounce on this new find with evolutionists claiming the skeleton adds to the limited fossil record.