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Question about Transitional Fossils

Hi,

I have been reading Richard Dawkins The Ancestors Tale. During the part on our descendants since the common ancestor with chimpanzees, a thought occured to me. It's is really hard to find pre-specified fossils for the following reason (from a comment I made a while ago):

"Finding any pre-specified fossil is rare for the same reason that pulling a pre-specified nubered ball out of a bag of 100 balls is rare (1/100) - there are many more other potential balls (fossils) that you could pull out (find). That is also the reason why it is easier, though still hard, to find fossils of transitional forms eg. between Humans and our common ancestor with apes - bigger time span (6-8 million years), bigger probability (though still quite small) of finding one. In the bag of balls analogy, it would be like wanting to pull out a numbered ball between 90 - 100 - now the probabilty is 10/100 = 1/10, so long as you don't care which one it is - notice that any particular fossil in the series has a probabilty of 1/100."

And yet we seem to have a fantastic collection of fossils detailing the evolution of our common ancestor with chimpanzees to modern humans. I know we have a good series of fossils for the whale/hippo common ancestor to modern whales (See Richard Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth) but why is our ancestory back throught the last 4 million years or so depicted so well in the fossil record?

Is it because we are trying to find them? But how do you look for a particular fossil, short of picking the right place. Or is there a special reason that makes human fossils easier to find? Am I even right about us having a better human fossil record then most other animal lineages?

Looking foward to some views on this. Thanks.

TAGGED: EARTH SCIENCES, EVOLUTION, PALEONTOLOGY


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