This is basically a well-written and exciting book about one of the most eye-catching fossils unearthed in a long time.
The Messel Pit, outside Frankfurt in Germany, has yielded a lot of very finely preserved fossils from the Eocene, one of the earlier epochs of the mammals' rule. One of these fossils is the topic of this book, an early primate, preserved in exquisite detail.
The book starts out with the story of how the specimen turned up at a fossil fair in Hamburg and eventually was acquired by a Norwegian university professor, who named it Ida. This chapter tends to go into detailed descriptions of a number of less-known paleontologists, including the size and colour of their beards. Such human-interest material often plagues paleontology books meant for a wider readership, apparently out of fear that the topic of the book is not interesting enough in itself.
Fortunately, "The Link" quickly moves on to the real stuff, a fascinating description of the Messel Pit, prehistory, geology and old fauna and flora. In the following chapters we look at the development of primates since the departure of the dinosaurs.
Gradually, the book warms up to its main theory; that Ida actually is one of our direct ancestors. The reasons given seem flimsy, but maybe the real thinking would be too complicated for the layman. However, the impression left behind is that this is maybe a shade too forced a conclusion, and it has also subsequently been hotly disputed in the scientific world.
And frankly, pushing the idea of human ancestry seems somehow superfluous. Ida is spectacular enough on her own, and well deserves this nice book with all the sharp photographs of her flattened remains.