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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Today in the News (1 Oct 09)

Evolution:
Okay, I just ran into this article on National Geographic. Of course, the media will distort and misinterpret what the findings actually mean (perhaps like they did with the Ida fossil). I will again urge caution in making any conclusions regarding the origins of humans which the evidence doesn't support. However, I am excited about the prospects of new information about our evolution coming to light. I think that's a good thing, and gives us a better understanding.

Here is an excerpt from the article on NatGeo:

Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago (interactive time line: how the new discovery changes human evolutionary theory).


The centerpiece of a treasure trove of new fossils, the skeleton—assigned to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus—belonged to a small-brained, 110-pound (50-kilogram) female nicknamed "Ardi." (See pictures of Ardipithecus ramidus.)


The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior—long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors—is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings.

I urge you to read the whole thing, and enjoy some of the interactive material.

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