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Major Fossil Find

The fossil of an ancient animal recently made headlines worldwide.

The now-famous fossil is that of a 47-million-year-old primate. The fossil was found in Germany. Recently, it went on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Scientists say it is "the most complete primate fossil ever found." They think it may be a distant relative of monkeys, apes, and humans.

The fossil was found in an area of Germany called the Messel Pit. Scientists have discovered many ancient fossils there over the years.

Dr. Jorn Hurum of the University of Oslo in Norway led the team of scientists who studied the fossil. The animal was a female. Hurum nicknamed her "Ida," after his 6-year-old daughter.

Hurum's team says Ida had many qualities similar to humans. She had thumbs that work like ours, and fingernails instead of claws. X-rays of the fossil show both baby and adult teeth. She had eyes that faced forward, which allowed her to see in three-dimensions and judge distance.

Studying Ida could tell scientists more about how modern human beings developed.

Ida is very well-preserved, and details of what she looked like are still apparent. Scientists saw that she had fur. They even found remains of Ida’s last meal. It was fruit and leaves.

"There's certainly a lot more information about this individual than probably any other fossil primate that's ever been recovered," said primate expert Dr. John Fleagle. Fleagle is not a part of the research team that has been studying Ida.

Ida was returned to her permanent home at the University of Oslo Natural History Museum in Norway. But a plaster copy of the fossil has become a part of the "Extreme Mammals" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

You can learn more about Ida online at http://www.history.com/thelink.

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