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Showing posts from October, 2009

'Ardi' Hardly Shapes Up

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Ardipithecus againPhoto: Suwa, et al., Science326(5949), 2 October 2009, DOI: 10.1126/science.1175825. Ardipithecus ramidus skull. It seems that the latest round of papers published represent painstaking efforts to establish its anatomical parameters as precisely as possible. But such a heavily fragmented, incomplete skull, for example, leaves a lot of room for speculation and interpreter bias. Its brain volume was estimated to be even smaller than that of a chimp. A recycled ape-manby Carl WielandPublished: 5 October 2009(GMT+10)The papers and news sites are full of claims about what some still think is a “new” candidate for an evolutionary ancestor of humans. Called Ardipithecus ramidus (often just “Ardi”), most of the articles actually explain that it’s really a detailed reanalysis of a fossil category that’s been around for years, but still the phones run hot with concerned creationists or gloating skeptics. Perhaps this is not surprising, given the journalistic temptation to run w…