Thursday, March 10, 2011

Is Ardipithecus ramidus in the Hominid Line?

We will discuss Ardi in class today, so I thought you would like to read a recent article from Scientific American (Click HERE) that casts doubts on whether Ardipithecus ramidus really was in the hominid line.
Teasing apart the origins of shared features in closely related species is especially tricky, especially when DNA clues are not available. So when researchers spy skeletal similarities in the fossil record, they might be led to believe that species "are more closely related than they really are," wrote the authors of a new review paper. For example, rather than indicating a direct link to modern humans, the familiar features of some purported human ancestors, including Ardipithecus ramidus, might be explained by convergent evolution.

"We could actually place Ardipithecus in a lineage that's unrelated to humans," Terry Harrison, of the Center for the Study of Human Origins at New York University and co-author of the paper, said in a podcast with Nature (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group).

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