Doccie on ancient hominid

2009-12-07 00:00

DISCOVERY Channel (DStv Channel 250) is set to screen Discovering Ardi — a two-hour special documenting the discovery of the 4.4-million-year-old Ethiopian hominid fossil Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed ‘Ardi’, at 6 pm on December 12.

The scientific investigation that began in the Ethiopian desert 17 years ago opens a new chapter on human evolution, revealing the first evolutionary steps our ancestors took after we diverged from the common ancestor we once shared with living chimpanzees.

Ardi’s centerpiece skeleton, the other hominids she lived with, and the rocks, soils, plants and animals that made up her world were analysed in laboratories around the globe and the findings were published in the journal Science.

Ardi is now the oldest skeleton from our (hominid) branch of the primate family tree. These Ethiopian discoveries reveal an early grade of human evolution in Africa that predated the famous Australopithecus nicknamed ‘Lucy’.

Ardipithecus was a woodland creature with a small brain, long arms, and short legs. The pelvis and feet show a primitive form of two-legged walking on the ground, but Ardipithecus was also a capable tree climber, with long fingers and big toes that allowed its feet to grasp like those of an ape. The discoveries answer questions about how hominids became bipedal.

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