Saturday, 29 May 2010
Goodbye, Ardi! Ardipithecus ramidus is becoming more apelike
Researchers are questioning the classification of Ardi. Image courtesy of Science via Time.com. © 2009, J. H. Matternes.
When Science published Ardi last October amid great fanfare, some researchers already doubted the significance of the discovery.
This week brought Ardi or Ardipithecus ramidus down at least a notch or two. Science published two technical comments on the discovery. One of them challenges Ardi’s assumed environment and the other her place in the human lineage.
Primatologist Esteban Sarmiento criticises the way Tim White and colleagues, the discoverers of Ardi, compared her remains with the traits of other hominids. They classified Ardipithecus ramidus into the human lineage mainly on the basis of teeth – canines and premolars. Sarmiento says that this kind of comparison is very unreliable.
According to Sarmiento, Ardi is probably too old to fit into the human lineage.
In addition, Rex Dalton of Nature News suggested that Ardi might be more apelike than it was thought.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
Dalton, Rex. 2010. Ardi may be more ape than human. Nature News 27 May http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100527/full/news.2010.267.html
Sarmiento, Esteban E. 2010. Comment on the Paleobiology and Classification of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science 328: 5982, 1105. (28 May)