8.10.2009 – 31.1.2010

Ida The latest sensation from Messel

In May 2009, a little primordial monkey named 'Ida' made headlines worldwide. The fossil from the Messel mine near Darmstadt, Germany, is the most complete primate fossil ever found. It shows what our ancestors might have looked like. For the first time, the Natural History Museum presented a true-to-original casting of the famous primeval monkey.

The great ape Darwinius masillae, called 'Ida', lived 47 million years ago in the tropical rainforest in the area around Messel, Germany. He belonged to an early group of primates. Modern primates and humans later emerged from this group. Thus it represents an early link between monkeys and humans.

The skeleton is the most complete and best preserved primate fossil ever found. In addition to teeth and bones, the contours of the soft tissues and the contents of the digestive tract have been preserved.

'Ida' was scientifically examined by our volunteer Dr. Jens Lorenz Franzen and other paleontologists.