Science: The Coal Man

When the Swiss scientist was awakened, it was 2 a.m. in the dreary Tuscan hamlet of Baccinello (pop. 400). But Paleontologist Johannes Hurzeler leaped from bed in a blink. In a coal seam 600 ft. under the village, a miner's torch had lighted an ancient white bone. Down in the depths Hurzeler dug farther with trembling care. Last week he ended a nine-year treasure hunt, exhumed the first complete fossil skeleton of an Oreopithecus ("mountain ape"). The age of the coal: 10 million years.

Most paleontologists have discarded the theory that man defected from the ancestors of apes and dropped out of...

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