Before Lucy came Ardi, new earliest hominid found – By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer

October 2nd, 2009 Print Print Email Email

WASHINGTON – The story of humankind is reaching back another million years as scientists learn more about “Ardi,” a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. (more…)

WASHINGTON – The story of humankind is reaching back another million years as scientists learn more about “Ardi,” a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. The 110-pound, 4-foot female roamed forests a million years before the famous Lucy, long studied as the earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.

This older skeleton reverses the common wisdom of human evolution, said anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University.

Rather than humans evolving from an ancient chimp-like creature, the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor — but each evolved and changed separately along the way.

“This is not that common ancestor, but it’s the closest we have ever been able to come,” said Tim White, director of the Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

The lines that evolved into modern humans and living apes probably shared an ancestor 6 million to 7 million years ago, White said in a telephone interview.

But Ardi has many traits that do not appear in modern-day African apes, leading to the conclusion that the apes evolved extensively since we shared that last common ancestor.

A study of Ardi, under way since the first bones were discovered in 1994, indicates the species lived in the woodlands and could climb on all fours along tree branches, but the development of their arms and legs indicates they didn’t spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground.

Formally dubbed Ardipithecus ramidus — which means root of the ground ape — the find is detailed in 11 research papers published Thursday by the journal Science.

“This is one of the most important discoveries for the study of human evolution,” said David Pilbeam, curator of paleoanthropology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

“It is relatively complete in that it preserves head, hands, feet and some critical parts in between. It represents a genus plausibly ancestral to Australopithecus — itself ancestral to our genus Homo,” said Pilbeam, who was not part of the research teams.

Scientists assembled the skeleton from 125 pieces.

Lucy, also found in Africa, thrived a million years after Ardi and was of the more human-like genus Australopithecus.

“In Ardipithecus we have an unspecialized form that hasn’t evolved very far in the direction of Australopithecus. So when you go from head to toe, you’re seeing a mosaic creature that is neither chimpanzee, nor is it human. It is Ardipithecus,” said White.

White noted that Charles Darwin, whose research in the 19th century paved the way for the science of evolution, was cautious about the last common ancestor between humans and apes.

“Darwin said we have to be really careful. The only way we’re really going to know what this last common ancestor looked like is to go and find it. Well, at 4.4 million years ago we found something pretty close to it,” White said. “And, just like Darwin appreciated, evolution of the ape lineages and the human lineage has been going on independently since the time those lines split, since that last common ancestor we shared.”

Some details about Ardi in the collection of papers:

• Ardi was found in Ethiopia’s Afar Rift, where many fossils of ancient plants and animals have been discovered. Findings near the skeleton indicate that at the time it was a wooded environment. Fossils of 29 species of birds and 20 species of small mammals were found at the site.

• Geologist Giday WoldeGabriel of Los Alamos National Laboratory was able to use volcanic layers above and below the fossil to date it to 4.4 million years ago.

• Ardi’s upper canine teeth are more like the stubby ones of modern humans than the long, sharp, pointed ones of male chimpanzees and most other primates. An analysis of the tooth enamel suggests a diverse diet, including fruit and other woodland-based foods such as nuts and leaves.

• Paleoanthropologist Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo reported that Ardi’s face had a projecting muzzle, giving her an ape-like appearance. But it didn’t thrust forward quite as much as the lower faces of modern African apes do. Some features of her skull, such as the ridge above the eye socket, are quite different from those of chimpanzees. The details of the bottom of the skull, where nerves and blood vessels enter the brain, indicate that Ardi’s brain was positioned in a way similar to modern humans, possibly suggesting that the hominid brain may have been already poised to expand areas involving aspects of visual and spatial perception.

• Ardi’s hand and wrist were a mix of primitive traits and a few new ones, but they don’t include the hallmark traits of the modern tree-hanging, knuckle-walking chimps and gorillas. She had relatively short palms and fingers which were flexible, allowing her to support her body weight on her palms while moving along tree branches, but she had to be a careful climber because she lacked the anatomical features that allow modern-day African apes to swing, hang and easily move through the trees.

• The pelvis and hip show the gluteal muscles were positioned so she could walk upright.

• Her feet were rigid enough for walking but still had a grasping big toe for use in climbing.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics of the University of California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and others.

  1. BBX
    | #1

    The Theory of Evolution is nonsense. God is the Architect who created humans and the universe.
    Read the Book THE SIGNATURE OF GOD by Grant Jeffery. This book shows clearly how the theory of Evolution is absolutely false.

  2. yikerbelen
    | #2

    Go to hell with your EVOLUTION. GOD say” let us create human being , sewun] like our selves and God created human being [sewun] like him self” How could we relate human being with ape or chimpes? If human being changed from ape through evolution, why does not the current apes changes to human being? What about the history of Adam? Lucy can not be the bridge between animal’s kingam’s and humankingdam. Lucy was either animal or human being. The baseless history what the arcologists are telling the world that human being transformed from chimpes through evolution is a total denial of theexistance of amighty GOD. God bless ethiopia and give good conscience to archologists . amen

  3. Anonymous
    | #3

    “ሁልጊዜም እውነት ቦታዋን አትለቅም” የዘመኑ ምሁራን የግሪክንንና የላቲንን ቋንቋ እያዳቀሉ ብዙ
    ጽፈዋል የሚያስቀው የጥቅሱን አመጣጥ እና ትርጓሜ ባለማገናዘባቸው ነው “Burn face” ቅጂ
    ኢትዮጵያ የሚለው ስም የተገኘው ከግሪክ ነው ውሸት:: ይህ አባባል ግሪኮች በነበራቸው ፍልስፍና
    “በዓለም ላይ ሁለት ሕዝቦች ይኖራሉ እነኝህም ግሪኮችና ግሪክ ለመሆን የሚፈልጉ ናቸው” ይላሉ
    በ 12ኛው ክፍለ ዘመን እንግሊዝን ታከው በግብጽ አቋርጠው በሱዳን ወደብ ኢትዮጵያ ሲደርሱ
    የራሱ ቋንቋ ያለው የራሱ ፊደል ያለው ዳርድንበሩ የተከበረ ሰንደቅ ዓላማ ያለው የመጀመሪያ ክሪስቲያን ሀገር መሆኑን ሲረዱ ያሉት ” እንኝህማ እንደኛ ሰው ናቸው በፀሐይ ብዛት ከመጥቆራቸው በቀር” ነበር ያሉት ለዚህ ተገቢው ምላሽ ታሪክ እራሱን ምስክርነት ሰጠ::
    ለበቂ መረጃ “ኢትዮጵያ የሰው ዘር የተገኘባት የእምነትና የስልጣኔ ምንጭ ናት !”
    ከአማረ አፈለ ብሻው 2004 አዲስ አበባ ኢትዮጵያ ያንብቡ::
    ታሪክ በአዲስ አበባ አቴንስ በአታናሲዮስ ፒ. ሚኮስ 1992 የጻፉትን ያንብቡ
    “In the wider sense,we are all Ethiopians.” Samuel Assefa
    ተገቢ ምላሽ ማንነታችንን ለሚፈታተኑን የክሪኮችን ፍልስፍና የሚያሳፍር መልካም ጥቅስ::
    ተተኪው ትውልድ ሊቀጥልበት የሚችል ታላቅ ምዕራፍ ለከፈቱ ወገኖቻችን ሁሉ እናመሰግናለን::

  4. ይህን በለው!
    | #4

    “ሁልጊዜም እውነት ቦታዋን አትለቅም” የዘመኑ ምሁራን የግሪክንንና የላቲንን ቋንቋ እያዳቀሉ ብዙ
    ጽፈዋል የሚያስቀው የጥቅሱን አመጣጥ እና ትርጓሜ ባለማገናዘባቸው ነው “Burn face” ቅጂ
    ኢትዮጵያ የሚለው ስም የተገኘው ከግሪክ ነው ውሸት:: ይህ አባባል ግሪኮች በነበራቸው ፍልስፍና
    “በዓለም ላይ ሁለት ሕዝቦች ይኖራሉ እነኝህም ግሪኮችና ግሪክ ለመሆን የሚፈልጉ ናቸው” ይላሉ
    በ 12ኛው ክፍለ ዘመን እንግሊዝን ታከው በግብጽ አቋርጠው በሱዳን ወደብ ኢትዮጵያ ሲደርሱ
    የራሱ ቋንቋ ያለው የራሱ ፊደል ያለው ዳርድንበሩ የተከበረ ሰንደቅ ዓላማ ያለው የመጀመሪያ ክሪስቲያን ሀገር መሆኑን ሲረዱ ያሉት ” እንኝህማ እንደኛ ሰው ናቸው በፀሐይ ብዛት ከመጥቆራቸው በቀር” ነበር ያሉት ለዚህ ተገቢው ምላሽ ታሪክ እራሱን ምስክርነት ሰጠ::
    ለበቂ መረጃ “ኢትዮጵያ የሰው ዘር የተገኘባት የእምነትና የስልጣኔ ምንጭ ናት !”
    ከአማረ አፈለ ብሻው 2004 አዲስ አበባ ኢትዮጵያ ያንብቡ::
    ታሪክ በአዲስ አበባ አቴንስ በአታናሲዮስ ፒ. ሚኮስ 1992 የጻፉትን ያንብቡ
    “In the wider sense,we are all Ethiopians.” Samuel Assefa
    ተገቢ ምላሽ ማንነታችንን ለሚፈታተኑን የክሪኮችን ፍልስፍና የሚያሳፍር መልካም ጥቅስ::
    ተተኪው ትውልድ ሊቀጥልበት የሚችል ታላቅ ምዕራፍ ለከፈቱ ወገኖቻችን ሁሉ እናመሰግናለን::

  5. jeberti from north
    | #5

    who care about Lucy or Ardi? we are dead alive b/c of meles mafia. we can not eat, drink,…. if they have got 1 billion year skeleton we do not care. we can not live by history we need to live daily life. skeloton is not food for ethiopian ppl at this time. Ethiopian ppl need food not history. our history finished when weyane came to in addis to lead our country. bla bla bla …. is not food. od bless mama Ethiopia.

  6. yikerbelen
    | #6

    samuel assefa, ante banda what are you talking about?

  7. sammy
    | #7

    To BBX and yikerbelen እንዲሁም ተመሳሳይ አመለካከት ላላችሁ የሃይማኖት አርበኞች ሁሉ :የአርኪዮሎጂ ጥናት ካልገባን የዳይኖሶር መኖርና መጥፋት ካልተዋጠልን ,የሳይንስ ጠላቶች ነን ማለት ነው:: የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ቤ/ክናችን ለሃገራችንና ለህዝባችን ወደሃላ መቅረት ትልቅ አስተዋጻኦ ለማድረጋቸው ሁሉም የሚያውቀው ሃቅ ነው:ይህ ደግሞ ኢትዮጵያን ተቀዳሚ ተራማጅ ሃገር አላደረጋትም :አቡኖቻችንና ሊቀ ሊቃውንቶቻችን ከጊዜው ጋር አለመራመዳቸውና ዘመናዊ ትምህርትን እንደ ጥቅም አለመመልከታቸው, ዕውቀታቸውን ውስን አርጎባቸዋል ብሎም ሃገሪቱን (paralized)ገርዙዋታል::በየሰንበቱ ሰው ማሳዘን ተግባር አርገው ይዘውታል
    ሰንበቱም አልበቃ ብሎዋቸው የየ44ቱ ታቦታት አመታዊ ንግስ በአል በተለይ ድሃውን ሙጥጥ አርጎ እራቁቱን አስቀርቶታል ::ይኅውና ይህ ውልግድግድ ያለውና እንደአባድር ጨርቅ ዝብርቅርቅ ያለውን ባህላችንን አንድ ማድረግ ተስኖዋቸው ህዝቡን እሱ ተሰቅላል እሱ ተነስቶዋል ከማለት ሌላ ሌላ የሚነግሩት ነገርም የለ::እዚህ ላይ እነ ቶማስ አክዋይናስን እነ ማርቲን ሉተርን ይሁኑ ማለቴ ሳይሆን ,የበቃው ይብቃን ነው የምለው::ግዕዝ ፊደል ይለምልም… ኢትዮጵያ ትለምልም

  8. ETHIOPIAN from Boston
    | #8

    …. JUST I WONDER HOW……

    Concerning Lucy and now Ardi, we Ethiopian use thse scientific and historical foundations as a manifestation of our pride. Some people claimed that we were the first creation of mankind. When I ask whether the first man Adam and Hewan (Eve) where Ethiopians, no body tells me with absolute certainity. Yet in the shortest time span, 3,000 years we still pride that we are the first people in history, culture, economic and religion. In religion, we claim that Ethiopia is the “Christian Island” and in our economic life we also propogate that Ethiopia is the “bread basket”. Why we donot work hard to change our reputation from a christian Island to “Island of religions” and from bread basket to some appropriate name because we knew that we are not a land of bread basket. There is no history that we were not without economic hardship and, in most case famine the very cause of death.

Comments are closed.