Oct 10 2009

The Missing Link as Media Star

Published by at 11:17 am under Idea Driven Marketing

So Ardi is the famed Missing Link! Who knew?

A lot more of us knew last weekend when Ardi, the 4.4 million-year-old human forebear, was unveiled to the world. And what a coming out party it was. Ardi caused a sensation. The front pages of the Times, Journal and SF Chronicle all covered the Ardi discovery above the fold. That is nearly on the same par as a Moon landing or election of Barack Obama.

Found in the Awash region of Ethiopia (starting in 1994), Ardi is a very old female precursor to human beings. She is not a chimp but not exactly human either. She walked fairly upright, with flat feet. She had opposable thumbs (like humans), but her strong hands indicated that she still probably did the monkey tree hanging thing.

Ardi looks like the closest thing to the long sought Missing Link, as she is a million years older than Lucy, the other famous homonid found in Ethiopia in 1974.

So why is a marketing blog writing about a major scientific find like Ardi. First, because these kinds of discoveries fascinate me. But also because the Ardi find is a global media event. Her discovery dominated our media obsessed culture for a few days, which is pretty amazing in the days of Death Panels, Jon and Kate, and Letterman scandals.

The excitement about Ardi goes to something very deep in our psyche and society — an abiding interest in where we really came from and how we started in this human journey. By shedding more light on those enduring questions, Ardi sort of transcends the usual battles over evolution and creationism. I am sure both sides claimed her to support their case.

Of course, Ardi did not inhabit the headlines for long. She was pretty much history again by Sunday and the big football games. But, for one shining moment a hairy, kind of homely, but friendly looking human ancestor ignited our imaginations.

Welcome to our world, Ardi! Don’t be a stranger, girlfriend.



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