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Friday, October 2, 2009

Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last

Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last | The Loom | Discover Magazine: "Combined with other A. afarensis fossils, paleonthropologists got a pretty decent picture of what hominids looked like. Lucy was a chimpanzee-sized ape with a brain that was only a little bigger than a chimp’s. She still had long arms and curving hands and other traits hinting that she could still climb in trees. But she also had feet with stiff, forward-facing toes, an adaptation for walking on the ground.

So things stood for about 20 years. But then, with the discovery of Ardipithecus and a few other hominid fossils, the record of our ancestry got pushed back millions of years. The oldest fossil that’s been identified as a hominid, Sahelanthropus tschadensis, dates back between 6 and 7 million years old. But scientists have only found pieces of the Sahelanthropus skull. Another species, Orrorin tugenensis, is 6 million years old; it’s represented by little more than a leg bone."

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