Much ado

Norway’s remarkable string of big international headlines continued with a major role in the massive publicity around the 47 million year old fossil dubbed ‘Ida‘ by Norwegian paleontologist Jørn Hurum.

With an orchestrated media campaign more typical of the launch of a Dan Brown film than a scientific discovery, the amazingly preserved fossilized skeleton was hailed as one of the missing links in man’s evolutionary chain.

The hype around the discovery even included comparing the find to stumbling across Noah’s Ark – though that would certainly have been something radically different than Darwinian evidence?

Much of the story has been covered in English language media, but one vital angle for the press here is that Hurum’s find will be on display in Norway’s Museum of Natural History in Oslo.

Unsurprisingly for a discovery hailed as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ that will rewrite natural history, the news has also generated considerable debate, from the true importance of the lemur-like fossil, to what some scientists appear to view as a distinctly undignifed amount of calculated fuss.

This attitude was perfectly illustrated, with the additional ingredient of the usual fierce neighborly rivalry, with coverage in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet. Skeptical of the value of Ida until proven otherwise, they instead concentrated on the discovery of an at least 10 million year old fossilized molar from the elephant-like Gomphotherium, which had never been thought to have roamed as far north as … Sweden.

One headline story that should get wider circulation is the startling discovery that asylum is being granted in Norway to refugees with confessed links to the Taliban. Even more shocking is that admissions of murder and torture appeared to strengthen their chances of asylum, as it made it far more probably that they faced similar treatment if sent back, and Norway doesn’t deport to unsafe countries. Read more about this at Views and News from Norway.

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