martes, 1 de junio de 2010

Chimp or Human?

Last fall, the discovery of a new skeleton in Ethiopia was hailed as a breakthrough in early Human evolution. The skeleton, classified as Ardipithecus ramidus and nicknamed "Ardi", is a million years older than the famous "Lucy." Ardi is believed to be one of the first to walk on two feet instead of knuckles, and is believed to have lived in woodland areas. This first shocked scientists who originally believed that humans started walking upright when they moved from tress onto the grasslands of the savannah. Now the entire study is being questioned as the classification of the skeleton is being doubted. Some scientists are starting to see if whether the skeleton is actually an ancestor of the modern chimp instead of modern Humans. This would require a stretch, others believe, because it would mean that the ape reverted back to more ancstral morphologies when evolving to become the chimpanzees we know. Some are also studying the surrounding fossils to determine the exact flora that surrounded Ardi during its life. The thoughts that it lived in a woodland area is being explored further as the fossilized vegetation may show otherwise. Missing Link? Or two new spaces to fill?



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