01 October 2009

The Winding Trail

You know, I wish I could be alive in 1,000 years for lots of reasons -- not the least because, by then, anthropologists will have unraveled the story of hominid evolution. Until then, we will have to be happy with the scattered discoveries that add mere pieces to a giant puzzle -- like the recent discovery of a new human ancestor called Ardipithecus ramidus.

This find dates back 4.4 million years -- much farther than Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), which dates back only about 3.2 million years, discovered in 1974 in roughly the same area in Ethiopia. It offers amazing new clues into how and when humans learned to walk upright and form relationships. It also takes science much closer to the time (thought to be about 6 million years ago) when the evolutionary branch leading to humans diverged from the branch with other primates.

You can read more about this startling discovery here.

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