Remember when archaeologists labored in obscurity and their discoveries seldom were made public, let alone stoked the media machine?
Well, meet Ida, a 47 million-year-old fossil of a monkey-like creature who was introduced yesterday at a media extravaganza at the Museum of Natural History in New York that was more like the release of a new U2 album.
The big hook -- and that was mandatory -- is that as the most complete early fossil yet found, Ida may provide a key link in the evolution of early primates and tell us gobs about how they developed into modern humans.
I'm quite sure that already has been determined, but we'll be kept in suspense while the media machine chugs madly away: Ida, like a NASCAR racer, is sponsored by the History Channel. There is a film detailing the secretive two-year study of the fossil, a book release, as well as an exclusive arrangement with ABC News and an elaborate Web site.Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty