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Ardi displaces Lucy as oldest hominid skeleton
Date:10/1/2009

to butcher larger mammals for meat, "paving the way to the evolution and geographic expansion of Homo, including later elaboration of technology and expansion of the brain," White said.

White said Ardi, who probably weighed about 110 pounds, had a brain close to the size of today's chimpanzees one-fifth that of Homo sapiens and a small face. Males and females were about the same size. The hominid's lack of resemblance to either chimp or modern humans indicates that the last common ancestor of apes and humans looked like neither, he said, and that both lines have evolved significantly since they split 6 million years ago.

White admits that the relationship between Ar. ramidus and the Australopithecus fossils the team has found about 80 meters higher in the strata of the Ethiopian desert is tentative. Nevertheless, he said Ardi's species could be the direct ancestor of Lucy's species, which could be the direct ancestor of modern humans. Without additional fossil evidence, however, connecting the individual or species dots is hazardous, White said.

"Ardipithecus ramidus is only known from this one productive site in Ethiopia," White said. "We hope others will find more fossils, in particular fossils from the period of 3-5 million years ago, to test this hypothesis of descent."


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Contact: Robert Sanders
rsanders@berkeley.edu
510-643-6998
University of California - Berkeley
Source:Eurekalert

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