There is an new paper(pdf) on saturated fat that is open access. It's a good review of how the views on saturated fat are changing.
It starts by pointing out that breast milk contains 50% of the total fat as saturated fat. This is an evolutionary clue of sorts, along with an existing mechanism that converts saturated fat to monosaturated fats.
The article goes on to describe the lack of general association between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. Additionally, it points out that people have different responses to the fat in their diet:
"Studies of response to dietary fats have found variation among individuals and differences between men and women in their response to dietary fat changes. Studies of individual sensitivity to changes in dietary saturated fats showed groups of consistent hyperresponders and minimal responders within a population of hypercholesterolaemic individuals."
The article concludes by saying that saturated fat may also help the gut bacteria protect against toxins.