Ardi (ARA-VP-6/500) is the designation of the fossilized skeletal remains of an Ardipithecus ramidus, believed to be an early human-like 4.4 million years old. It is the most complete early hominid specimen, with most of the skull, teeth, pelvis, hands and feet, more complete than the previously known Australopithecus afarensis specimen called "Lucy." In all, 110 different pieces of fossilized bone were found. Ardi weighed about 50 kg (110 lb) and could be up to 120 cm (3 ft 11 in) tall. Although she is a biped, Ardi had both opposable big toes and thumbs in order to climb trees.
Although it is not known whether Ardi's species developed into Homo sapiens, the discovery is of great significance and added much to the debate on Ardipithecus and its place in human evolution. Ardi cannot be a common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans. Chimpanzee are specialised for grasping trees. Ardi's feet are better suited for walking because the middle of the foot is more stable, while a chimpanzee's foot is more flexible.
The canine teeth of A. ramidus are smaller, and equal in size between males and females. This suggests reduced male-to-male conflict, pair-bonding, and increased parental investment."Thus fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes probably occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools."
The Ardi skeleton was discovered at Aramis in the arid badlands near the Awash River in Ethiopia in 1994 by a college student, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, when he uncovered a partial piece of a hand bone. The discovery was made by a team of scientists led by UC Berkeley anthropologist, Tim D. White, and was analyzed by an international group of scientists that included Owen Lovejoy heading the biology team. On October 1, 2009, the journal Science published an open-access collection of eleven articles, detailing many aspects of A. ramidus and its environment.
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- "Oldest Skeleton of Human Ancestor Found". National Geographic. Retrieved 2009-10-01.[dead link]
- "Who's Who in Human Evolution". NOVA (PBS). Retrieved 2009-10-08.
- Lemonick, MD; Dorfman, D (1 October 2009). "Ardi is a new piece for the evolution puzzle". Time. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
- Achenbach, J (2 October 2009). "'Ardi' may rewrite the story of humans: 1.4 million-year-old primate helps bridge evolutionary gap". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2009.
- Amos, J (1 October 2009). "Fossil finds extend human story". BBC. Archived from the original on 6 October 2009. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
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- Human Origins and the Fossil Skeleton Ardi Radio interview of Stanley Ambrose, Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois
- Ardipithecus ramidus -Science Journal Article
- Discovering Ardi - Discovery Channel