90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
'Ardi' and Human Evolution
Composite photograph of the skeleton showing approximate placement of elements. (From Science Magazine: click to see full-size image at www.sciencemag.org).

From Science magazine. Click to see full-size image at www.sciencemag.org.

It’s been at least 4.4 million years since “Ardi” was in the limelight.

And the limelight then was nothing like now.

Magazines, television, and websites all over the world  have been flashing the image this week of a homely, hairy human ancestor:

Ardipithecus ramidus, her skeleton painstakingly recreated from tiny fragments scooped up in Ethiopia.

For years, we’ve all known “Lucy” as the oldest link. Now, there stands “Ardi,” asking us to reconsider what we know about the path of human origins.

This hour, On Point: a key interpreter of the discovery on what we’ve learned from Ardi.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from Charlottesville, Va., is Owen Lovejoy, professor of biological anthropology at Kent State University. He was a lead analyst on the team that discovered and examined “Ardi,” and he was a lead author on some of the articles in Science presenting the findings.

From Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Bernard Wood, professor of human origins and human evolutionary anatomy at George Washington University. He is a senior scientist at the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution.

More:

You can find out more about the archaelogical site, called the “Middle Awash,” in Ethiopia, where Ardi was found.

Here’s an illustration in the journal Science showing how the researchers who discovered Ardi think she fits into the path of human evolution. The “CLCA” in the graphic indicates the “Last Common Ancestor” shared by humans and chimps:

ardi

Credit: Courtesy of Science magazine (www.sciencemag.org). Copyright J. H. Matternes.

Here’s another illustration courtesy of Science showing Ardi’s unique feet, compared with that of humans and chimpanzees/bonobos (the genus called Pan):

Ardifoot

Credits: Courtesy of magazine (www.sciencemag.org). Copyright J. H. Matternes; chimpanzee climbing, J. DeSilva; bonobo and human feet, S. Ingham.

And below is an artist’s reconstructions for Science showing how Ardi’s skeleton, muscles, and body looked, and how she would have moved on top of branches:

Credits: Courtesy of Science, ILLUSTRATIONS © 2009, J. H. MATTERNES

Credits: Courtesy of magazine (www.sciencemag.org). Illustrations © 2009, J. H. Matternes.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Jan 30, 2015
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch gathers her papers during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination. (AP)

Obama abroad. Hostage drama. Attorney general hearings. Snow days. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Jan 30, 2015
In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

“American Sniper.” Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s war film keeps crushing at the box office and stirring more controversy. We’ll go to it.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jan 30, 2015
In the new film "American Sniper," Bradley Cooper plays real-life US Navy Seal Chris Kyle, who was the deadliest marksman in American history. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

“American Sniper.” Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s war film keeps crushing at the box office and stirring more controversy. We’ll go to it.

 
Jan 30, 2015
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch gathers her papers during a break in her testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on her nomination. (AP)

Obama abroad. Hostage drama. Attorney general hearings. Snow days. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: January 30, 2015
Friday, Jan 30, 2015

Emails, on-air interactions and the dystopic legend of Shia LaBeouf. (We aren’t kidding about that last one, we swear).

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: January 23, 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

New thoughts on Facebook, new analysis of State of the Union twitter activity and new weekend excitement. New! And exciting!

More »
Comment
 
Meet On Point’s Interns: Spring 2015
Friday, Jan 23, 2015

Good news! We have interns, and they are wonderful, and here they are for the spring term. Meet them digitally, right here.

More »
3 Comments