Darwinius

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Darwinius masillae
Temporal range: Eocene 47 mya
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Notharctidae
Subfamily: Cercamoniinae
Genus: Darwinius
Species: D. masillae
Binomial name
Darwinius masillae
Franzen et al., 2009


Darwinius is a genus of primates known from only one fossil. It was discovered in 1983 by an amateur at the Messel Pit. This is a disused shale quarry noted for its astonishing fossil preservation, near the village of Messel, about 35 km (22 miles) southeast of Frankfurt am Main in Germany.

The fosssil dates from the Eocene epoch, 47 million years ago. The genus Darwinius was named to celebrate Charles Darwin on his bicentenary and the species name masillae honors Messel, where the specimen was found. The creature appeared superficially similar to a modern lemur.

The fossil, nicknamed 'Ida', was divided into a slab and partial counterslab after the excavation. The two parts were sold separately, was not reassembled until 2007.