Ida - a tiny 47-million-year-old fossil - was discovered decades ago, in 1983, at the Messel Pit southeast of Frankfurt am Main in Germany. But it was only in May 2009 that she was introduced to the world, at the head of a whirlwind publicity campaign (she even appeared in the Google logo), as the supposed "missing link" in human evolution.
The pint-sized primate made headlines all over the world, and was the subject of a big-budget feature-length documentary shown by The History Channel. But debate over Ida's true importance has simmered all year. Norwegian paleontologist Jørn Hurum - who purchased Ida for $1 million from a dealer he met in a vodka bar in Hamburg - believes she was an early ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans. Other experts have staunchly disagreed, and argued that Ida in fact originates from an insignificant and long-ceased branch of evolution.