Ardipithecus ramidus revealed

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October 02, 2009

The discovery in Ethiopia during the course of 1992 to 1994 of fossils more than four million years old was finally revealed to the scientific world on October 2 of this year in a special edition of the journal Science.  Many thousands of pieces of fossilized bone were recovered,m reconstructed and shown to be the most complete, oldest specimen on the human lineage and named Ardipithecus ramidus.  Although the existence of Ar. ramidus has been known for fifteen years this was its first official, and most complete, viewing

Simultaneous press conferences in Addis Ababa and Washington DC insured the world's press would take note of this remarkable find and accounts can be found across the media spectrum, including print, TV and the internet.  Interested visitors to this site can go to TIME, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mail, BBC Online and an NPR podcast for more detail.  The Daily Mail in particular has the most complete illustrative material.

At 4.2 million years old, "Ardy" was female, stood less than four feet tall and was bipedal, thus firmly within the hominin lineage.  Unlike Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis). until now the oldest, most complete skeleton at 3.1 million years old, Ardy was flat footed - her feet lacked arches - and possessed the abducted, grasping toe' these are characteristics of chimps and gorillas.  From the ankles up, however, Ardy's anatomy, including tibiae and femora (lower leg and thigh bones), hips and shoulders are determinative for bipedality.

"Ardy" was found in a part of Ethiopia called the Afar Triangle on the southwestern shore of the Red Sea.  The Afar  is home to some of the world's richest fossil and artifact sites, including Gona (oldest stone tools), Hadar (where Lucy was found and, later, also some very old stone tools) and the Middle Awash area, where Ardy was found.