Although first discovered in the early 1990s, the bones of Ardipithecus ramidus are only now being nominated for evolutionists’ fossil hall of fame—via a slew of papers in a special issue of the journal Science. In it, Ardi’s researchers describe the bones and make the case that Ardi is even more important in the history of human evolution than Lucy.
But despite claims of its evolutionary significance, one of the scientists who studied Ardi noted, “It’s not a chimp. It’s not a human.” That is, instead of looking like the hypothesized “missing link” (with both chimpanzee and human features), Ardi’s anatomy—as reconstructed by the scientists—shows it to have been distinct from other apes as well as from humans. The researchers have consequently shunned the notion of a missing link: “It shows that the last common ancestor [between humans and] chimps didn’t look like a chimp, or a human, or some funny thing in between,” explained Penn State University paleontologist Alan Walker (who was not part of the study).
We continue to research Ardi in preparation for a more extensive comment in this week’s edition of News to Note, October 3, 2009, our popular weekly news feature. Please return tomorrow to read the item!