Skip to comments.Fossils Shed New Light on Human Past (Our ancestors were more modern than scholars had assumed)
Posted on 10/02/2009 7:10:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
After 15 years of rumors, researchers made public fossils from a 4.4 million-year-old human forebear they say reveals that our ancestors were more modern than scholars had assumed, widening the evolutionary gulf separating humankind from apes and chimpanzees.
The highlight of the extensive fossil trove was a female skeleton a million years older than the iconic bones of Lucy, the primitive female figure that has long symbolized humankind's beginnings.
An international research team led by paleoanthropologist Tim White at the University of California, Berkeley, unveiled on Thursday remains from 36 males, females and young of an ancient prehuman species called Ardipithecus ramidus, unearthed in the Awash region of Ethiopia starting in 1994. The creatures take their scientific name from the word for "root" in the local Afar language. They aren't the oldest known fossils of hominids -- as prehuman species and their relatives are called -- but constitute the most complete set discovered so far.
"It is not a chimp, and it is not human," said Dr. White. "It gives us a new perspective on our origins. We opened a time capsule from a time and place that we knew nothing about."
Although the differences between humans, apes and chimps today are legion, we all shared a common ancestor six million years or so ago. These fossils suggest that the common ancestor -- still undiscovered -- resembled a chimp much less than researchers have always believed.
In fact, so many traits in modern chimps and apes are missing from these early hominids that researchers now question the notion that chimps and apes are a repository of primitive traits once shared by our ancestors. "We all thought the ancestral animal would look more like a chimp," said Yale University anthropologist Andrew Hill.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Interesting. Long arms, large hands.... That looks a lot like Michael Phelps’ skeleton.... I’m just not sure how they knew the bodywas covered with hair like a gorilla.
“To paraphrase scientists: “Chimps, Apes and Humans are more distinct than we thought, and probably more distinct from the common predecessor”
To paraphrase God: “Hello! McFly!””
—I’m not sure how that’s a paraphrase of what the scientists are saying. The article is actually saying that the common ancestor was likely more human than thought.
It used to be thought that the common ancestor would be essentially a chimp anatomically, and that it was humans that did virtually all the changing while chimps changed little since the common ancestor. But the fossil evidence indicates that humans changed less than thought while chimps changed a bit more than thought, and so the common ancestor is as close anatomically to humans as it is to chimps.
Thanks SeekAndFind. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
· Discover · Nat Geographic · Texas AM Anthro News · Yahoo Anthro & Archaeo · Google ·
· The Archaeology Channel · Excerpt, or Link only? · cgk's list of ping lists ·
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.