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Major Fossil Find

The fossil of an ancient, or very old, animal recently made headlines around the world.

The now-famous fossil is that of a 47-million-year-old primate. Monkeys, apes, and humans are all part of the primate family. Most primates have large brains as well as hands that can hold objects securely.

This primate fossil was found in Germany. Recently, it was on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Scientists say it is "the most complete primate fossil ever found."

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

Dr. Jorn Hurum led the team of scientists who studied the fossil. They learned that the animal was a female. Hurum nicknamed her "Ida," after his 6-year-old daughter.

Hurum's team says Ida had many qualities like those of 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 also had eyes that faced forward. That means that Ida’s vision probably worked a lot like ours.
 
Studying Ida could tell scientists more about how modern human beings came to be.

When they studied the fossil closely, scientists found out many interesting things. They saw that she had fur. They even found remains of Ida’s last meal. It was fruit and leaves.

Ida was returned to her home at the University of Oslo Natural History Museum in Norway. Scientists there will see what else they can learn from Ida.

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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