Stranger Fruit

Australopith ancestry clarified

From UC Berkeley:

New fossils discovered in the Afar desert of eastern Ethiopia are a missing link between our ape-man ancestors some 3.5 million years ago and more primitive hominids a million years older, according to an international team led by the University of California, Berkeley, and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

The fossils are from the most primitive species of Australopithecus, known as A. anamensis, and date from about 4.1 million years ago, said Tim White, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and one of the team’s leaders. The hominid Australopithecus has often been called an ape-man because, though short-statured, small-brained and big-toothed, it walked on two legs unlike the great apes.

More primitive hominids in the genus Ardipithecus date from between 4.4 million and 7 million years ago and were much more ape-like, though they, too, walked on two legs.

“This new discovery closes the gap between the fully blown Australopithecines and earlier forms we call Ardipithecus,” White said. “We now know where Australopithecus came from before 4 million years ago.”

The fossil finds and an analysis of the hominid’s habitat and evolutionary position are reported by White and co-authors from Ethiopia, Japan, France and the United States in the April 13 issue of Nature.

You can read more here.

Edit: The paper is now online here.

White et al. (2006) “Asa Issie, Aramis and the origin of Australopithecus” Nature 440, 883-889 (13 April 2006) | doi:10.1038/nature04629


  1. #1 J-Dog
    April 12, 2006

    If the DI was totally freaking over Tiktaalik, how bad will their freak be over this! HA!

  2. #2 Scott
    April 12, 2006

    I think that this is just one more piece of the dastardly “gap-filling” conspiracy on the part of the Evilutionist Hordes! They’re clearly saving up these things, waiting until the Other Side says something silly about missing links (a short wait, mind you), and then releasing another one. I mean, having this come hard on the heels of the “fishapod”? Coincidence? Not likely.

    Someone wanting to pontificate on and and give examples of “missing links” must be (in Tom Lehrer’s phrase) as nervous as a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.

    What’s next?? 🙂

  3. #3 afarensis
    April 12, 2006

    Wow! Fascinating article! Thanks for the link to it! I found two things about the article (well more than that but I don’t want to hog the thread). First, the citing of the Ward et al papers predicting that Ar. ramidus, Au. anamensis and Au. afarensis form an anagenetic series and the claim that White et al’s paper tests this prediction (who says paleoanthroplogy can’t make predictions)! Second, they relate it back to punk eq…fascinating stuff. Are you going to do a more in depth write up of the paper?

  4. #4 John Lynch
    April 12, 2006

    Nah, I’ll kick it over to you. I’m pressed for time at the moment.

  5. #5 afarensis
    April 12, 2006

    Cool! I have to go run an errand, but I’ll have it up in a couple of hours…

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