T Nation

Oldest Human-Linked Skeleton Found

“Ardiâ” predates Lucy by a million years, changes scientific view of origins

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33110809/ns/technology_and_science-science/

By Randolph E. Schmid
updated 7:23 p.m. ET Oct. 1, 2009

WASHINGTON - The story of humankind is reaching back another million years with the discovery of â??Ardi,â?? 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.
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Rather than humans evolving from an ancient chimplike creature, the new find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some long-ago common ancestor â?? but each evolved and changed separately along the way.

â??This is not that common ancestor, but itâ??s the closest we have ever been able to come,â?? 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 didnâ??t spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground.

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

â??This is one of the most important discoveries for the study of human evolution,â?? said David Pilbeam, curator of paleoanthropology at Harvardâ??s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

â??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 â?? itself ancestral to our genus Homo,â?? said Pilbeam, who was not part of the research teams.

Scientists assembled the skeleton from 125 pieces.

Image: Map of Western Afar Rift
Science / AAAS
The area where “Ardi” was found is rich in sites where the fossils of human ancestors have been found.

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

â??In Ardipithecus we have an unspecialized form that hasnâ??t evolved very far in the direction of Australopithecus. So when you go from head to toe, youâ??re seeing a mosaic creature that is neither chimpanzee, nor is it human. It is Ardipithecus,â?? 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.

â??Darwin said we have to be really careful. The only way weâ??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,â?? White said. â??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.â??
Image: Ardi drawing
J.H. Matternes
An artist’s rendering shows Ardipithecus ramidus as it might have looked in life.

Some details about Ardi in the collection of papers:

* Ardi was found in Ethiopiaâ??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.

* Ardiâ??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 Ardiâ??s face had a projecting muzzle, giving her an ape-like appearance. But it didnâ??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 Ardiâ??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.

* Ardiâ??s hand and wrist were a mix of primitive traits and a few new ones, but they donâ??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.

bullshit, god created us.

Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

[quote]300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.[/quote]

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

[quote]PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.[/quote]

Faith is a skyhook, not a crutch.

[quote]300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.[/quote]

Well, between us and some form of proto-ape (remember: humans ARE apes).

The problem with the demand for transitional fossils is that all of them are transitional. Every fossil discovered makes two new gaps to fill, and these gaps are the sanctuaries of the history deniers.

You’d need an unbroken chain of fossils from us, our parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on to be able to convince bible bashing rednecks that evolution is true.

And the big problems?

  1. Fossils are incredibly hard to find, we’re lucky we have the ones we do.
  2. Fossils aren’t the only thing that evolutionary theory needs for proof.

[quote]PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.[/quote]

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created? [/quote]

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years. They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says.

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created? [/quote]

No, you’re being totaly original.

[quote]asusvenus wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

No, you’re being totaly original.

[/quote]

Sweet, that’s what I figured. Makes me feel a little bit better about myself today.

[quote]Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years.

They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says. [/quote]

I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?[/quote]

So basically you don’t take the bible literally. There are those who claim we should, and to them I ask when they last stoned a child or woman to death.

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god. Time is a relative term for people.

I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?[/quote]

So basically you don’t take the bible literally. There are those who claim we should, and to them I ask when they last stoned a child or woman to death.

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years.

They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says.

I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?[/quote]

So my question is how can you believe that Adam and Eve were created on “the sixth day” but also believe in evolution from the single cell? Aren’t those direct contradictions to one another because the bible is saying that god “created” Adam and Eve, not that they evolved from another organism.

I am Agnostic but find it fascinating about the beliefs that people have.

[quote]Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years.

They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says.

I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?

So my question is how can you believe that Adam and Eve were created on “the sixth day” but also believe in evolution from the single cell? Aren’t those direct contradictions to one another because the bible is saying that god “created” Adam and Eve, not that they evolved from another organism.

I am Agnostic but find it fascinating about the beliefs that people have. [/quote]

I believe GOD created the single cell in which we evolved from to become man. That’s where the concept of time gives people issues. I don’t see these as a contradiction, just an explanation of how. The bible was written by man and translated by other men. Not everything can always be taken literally. It’s up to us to understand the ideas. Christianity is all about faith and free will.

[quote]Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years.

They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says.

I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?

So my question is how can you believe that Adam and Eve were created on “the sixth day” but also believe in evolution from the single cell? Aren’t those direct contradictions to one another because the bible is saying that god “created” Adam and Eve, not that they evolved from another organism.

I am Agnostic but find it fascinating about the beliefs that people have.

I believe GOD created the single cell in which we evolved from to become man. That’s where the concept of time gives people issues. I don’t see these as a contradiction, just an explanation of how. The bible was written by man and translated by other men. Not everything can always be taken literally. It’s up to us to understand the ideas. Christianity is all about faith and free will. [/quote]

I am not trying to start an argument, just trying to understand your point of view.

So do you believe that on the sixth day god transformed the single cell into Adam and Eve? Or do you believe that the single cell was made in one of the days beforehand (which could be thousands or millions of years because we have established you don’t believe in the days actually being “days”) and on the sixth day finally had evolved into Adam and Eve?

Again, I am not trying to argue, I am surrounded by conservative people who would probably be absolutely shocked that I do not believe in the bible’s word for word account to be true. I am just trying to understand your point of view more clearly.

[quote]Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
Mr Anderson wrote:
Jason Lee wrote:
PB-Crawl wrote:
300andabove wrote:
Nice one.

Didn’t know about that.

Cannot wait for the day they find the original link between us and apes.

All the God Fearing Science hating people will choke on their bibles.

And what makes you think they posses the ability to rationalize such information? They already require a mental crutch just to get through life. Odds are they will continue to live in denial and keep proposing far fetched rootball ideas and worship flying spagetti monsters.

Has anyone ever considered that science could just be showing us how god created?

Because the majority of bible thumping creationists, atleast here in conservative parts of America, refuse to believe that the Earth is as old as 4.5 billion years.

They believe emphatically that the Earth was created 6000-7000 years ago, so evidence like this is obviously false because it says that the Earth is over a couple million years old which cannot be true according to what the bible says.

I have absolutely no doubt that the world is much older than 7000 years. I believe most of our science to be true too. I believe in evolution from the single cell. But I also believe in god.

Time is a relative term for people. I don’t see why people can’t grasp that. Adam and Eve could have be neanderthals for all we know. On the sixth day god created man. How long is a day to an infinite being?

So my question is how can you believe that Adam and Eve were created on “the sixth day” but also believe in evolution from the single cell? Aren’t those direct contradictions to one another because the bible is saying that god “created” Adam and Eve, not that they evolved from another organism.

I am Agnostic but find it fascinating about the beliefs that people have.

I believe GOD created the single cell in which we evolved from to become man. That’s where the concept of time gives people issues. I don’t see these as a contradiction, just an explanation of how. The bible was written by man and translated by other men. Not everything can always be taken literally. It’s up to us to understand the ideas. Christianity is all about faith and free will.

I am not trying to start an argument, just trying to understand your point of view.

So do you believe that on the sixth day god transformed the single cell into Adam and Eve? Or do you believe that the single cell was made in one of the days beforehand (which could be thousands or millions of years because we have established you don’t believe in the days actually being “days”) and on the sixth day finally had evolved into Adam and Eve?

Again, I am not trying to argue, I am surrounded by conservative people who would probably be absolutely shocked that I do not believe in the bible’s word for word account to be true. I am just trying to understand your point of view more clearly. [/quote]

I believe on the 6th day god created the single cell organism. Who knows how long this planet was here before life started. I don’t think it was poof planet and life. Don’t worry about arguing or offending me or anything like that. I don’t take anything personally and am always up for a discussion, debate, or just plain tossing around different ideals.

To Mr Anderson- in what way are you an agnostic? You don’t KNOW if there is a God or not? Or you don’t CARE if there’s a God or not? Or something else?

[quote]Badunk wrote:
To Mr Anderson- in what way or you an agnostic? You don’t KNOW if there is a God or not? Or you don’t CARE if there’s a God or not? Or something else?[/quote]

Exactly that, I don’t know if there is a god or not and contrary to what theists believe they do not KNOW either. None of us will know until we die.

For me, there is not enough evidence for the existence of any sort of god so I choose to live my own life. I also don’t believe in any sort of religion where murders and rapists can “repent their sins” and be sent to heaven but where I have been a good person my whole live less “giving my life to christ” would go to hell. That makes absolutely no sense to me.

I believe in the possibility of some sort of supernatural being, but not in the way any religion describes. Religions are just like any other business, always asking for this donation or that donation. Was it not the founder of scientology who said something along the lines of “if you want to make a fortune, start a religion” and years later started scientology? I believe religions pray on the weakness and insecurities of people who believe that we MUST have a higher purpose and they provide a sense of comfort to these individuals because “they will go to heaven” if they do as their told.

This is not meant to offend anyone, the man asked me a question about what I believed and that is what I believe. I hope no one takes this as a personal attack because it is not. It is what I believe and what makes sense to me, if you disagree and what you believe works for you… Thats awesome. Everyone is different.