Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ardi puts new spin on hominid evolution.(2009 SCIENCE NEWS OF THE YEAR:Humans).

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Lucy's skeleton, originally uploaded by yaslind.

A 4.4-million-year-old partial female skeleton discovered in Africa, along with fossils from at least 36 of her comrades, provide the first comprehensive look at any ancient hominid species older than Lucy (SN: 10/24/09, p. 9). The skeleton, dubbed Ardi, looks unlike any living primate, suggesting that today's chimps provide poor models of the last common ancestor of humans and African apes, researchers assert. "Ardipithecus is so rife with anatomical surprises that no one could have imagined it without direct fossil evidence," says Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley.

Ardi's species, Ardipithecus ramidus, lived in a forested region and possessed an unexpected mix of skeletal traits suitable for two-legged walking at a slow pace, for methodical tree climbing and for movement through the trees on all fours, the researchers say. Small faces and canine teeth indicate that males rarely fought over access to mates, unlike male chimps. Instead, Ardipithecus males gathered food and brought it to specific females. This mating style spurred the evolution of an upright stance and the sexual physiology of women today, according to one of the Ardi investigators.

Source Citation
"Ardi puts new spin on hominid evolution." Science News 2 Jan. 2010: 17. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Jan. 2010. .

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