Friday, 2 October 2009
Much Ado About Ardi
The discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus, recently published in Science, changes man’s pedigree –once again. Image courtesy of Science via Time.com © 2009, J.H. Matternes.
In Ardipithecus ramidus we have the second fossil to be touted as the discovery of the century this year. The first was the case of Ida or Darwinius masillae that turned out to be a flop.
Before Ida, we had the Hobbits or H. floresiensis. And during the dark ages, i.e. the 1970s, we all became acquainted with our grandmother Lucy a.k.a. Australopithecus afarensis.
According to Science, Ardipithecus ramidus, found in Afar in Ethiopia, is 4.4 million years old or 1.2 million years older than Lucy. Ardi is touted as the oldest hominid discovery of all time.
Putting together the fossil bones has been like trying to fit the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together, as for instance the skull was badly crushed and it had to be put together from over 60 broken pieces that had spread over a large area.
Ardi was found in 1994. It took 15 years to reconstruct Ardi’s extremely fragile bones and put them together, which might say something about the speculative nature of the outcome.
Time.com. describes the condition of Ardi’s earthy remains, quoting Penn State paleoanthropologist Alan Walker:
"One problem is that some portions of Ardi's skeleton were found crushed nearly to smithereens and needed extensive digital reconstruction. 'Tim [White] showed me pictures of the pelvis in the ground, and it looked like an Irish stew,' says Walker."
It seems that the researchers’ basic assumptions decided which pieces they put where. While the bones were extremely fragile to the point of breaking apart in their hands, they nevertheless succeeded in putting together the remains of a female hominid estimated to be 47 in or 120 cm tall and weigh 50 kg.
Andrew Hill of the University of Yale says in a video released by Science that only four or five hominid fossils have been found. Most of our assumed ancestors are only known from skull fragments like in the case of Sahelanthropus, or from a few teeth or a bone or two.
What is obvious, however, is that evolutionists have been teaching a history of our past that is not true and man’s genealogical tree will have to be re-drawn. The discovery of Tim White and colleagues has awakened the Darwinists to realise that the assumed ancestor of man and the chimpanzee does not primarily look like a chimpanzee.
Hill disclosed that since very few chimpanzee and gorilla fossils have been found, researchers had not expected them to have changed considerably.
There is much less glory to be had in discovering a chimpanzee or gorilla ancestor than in getting a human forefather on the cover of a prestigious science journal. Perhaps for this reason few would even want to look for them.
Ardi has a typical ape’s foot, i.e. its big toe is sticking out sideways. Many evolutionists believe that Lucy or Australopithecus afarensis left the Laetoli footprints that do not considerably differ from those left by modern man although Lucy’s big toe most probably also stuck out sideways like Ardi’s. Ardi was definitely not able to leave such marks.
Dating old fossils is a game that is anything but precise since scientists will not date the fossils but rather the age of the place where they are found and since the methods include many assumptions. Thus, we cannot be certain whether Ardi really is the oldest hominid.
In addition, there is something suspicious in keeping extremely fragile fossil pieces out of the public eye for fifteen long years.
Dalton, Rex. 2009. Oldest hominid skeleton revealed. Nature News. (1 October) http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091001/full/news.2009.966.html?s=news_rss
Science. 2009. Before “Lucy,” There Was “Ardi”: First Major Analysis of One of Earliest Known Hominids Published in Science.
The Analysis of Ardipithecus ramidus--One of the Earliest Known Hominids. Science Video.
Lemonick, Michael D. & Dorfman, Andrea. 2009. Ardi Is a New Piece for the Evolution Puzzle. Time.com. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1927200-2,00.html
Luskey, Casey. 2009. Bones of "Ardi," New Human Evolution Fossil, “Crushed Nearly to Smithereens”. Evolution news and views. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/10/key_bones_of_new_hominid_fossi.html#more
White, Tim D. 2009. Authors' Summary: Ardipithecus ramidus and the Paleobiology of Early Hominids. Science 326: 5949, 64, 75-86. (2 October).