A Fossil Named Ardi Shakes Up Humanity's Family Tree

By Eliza Strickland | October 1, 2009 12:57 pm

ArdiHumanity has a new matriarch: a hominid named Ardi who lived in Ethiopia 4.4 million years ago. Anthropologists have unveiled the results of 17 years of research on a new species named Ardipithecus ramidus, presenting a rich trove of fossils including the partial skeleton of the small-brained, 110-pound female. Ardi is 1.2 million years older than the famed “Lucy,” of the species Australopithecus afarensis, and experts say the find fundamentally changes our understanding of human evolution.

Study coauthor Tim White says that Ardi provides clues to what the last common ancestor shared by humans and chimps might have looked like before their lineages diverged about 7 million years ago…. But despite being “so close to the split,” says White, the surprising thing is that she bears little resemblance to chimpanzees, our closest living primate relatives [Time].

Ardi’s pelvis, leg, and feet bones indicated that she walked upright on two feet, but her opposable big toes suggest that she was also comfortable climbing trees. Her hand, arm, and shoulder bones indicate that she didn’t often swing through the trees, though; instead she probably walked on her palms along tree branches like some extinct apes. Based on Ardi’s anatomy, it appears that chimpanzees may actually have evolved more than humans — in the scientific sense of having changed more over the past 7 million years or so [Time].

In a special issue of the journal Science that will be published later today, researchers present 11 papers covering many aspects of Ardipithecus ramidus, and drawing information from the bone fragments of 35 individuals. The researchers also examined the remains of animals, seeds and pollen uncovered at the excavation site [that] reveal it to have been a woodland where colobus monkeys swung in trees full of swifts, doves and lovebirds, and spiral-horned antelope, elephants, shrews and early forms of peacock roamed the forest floor below [The Guardian].

That woodland habitat contrasts with the savanna where Lucy was thought to dwell, and it has big implications for our understanding of what caused hominids to rise to their feet. If the researchers are correct in thinking that Ardi walked upright as well as climbed trees, the environmental evidence would seem to strike the death knell for the “savanna hypothesis”—a long-standing notion that our ancestors first stood up in response to their move onto an open grassland environment [National Geographic News].

So how did bipedalism take off? One provocative idea rests on Ardi’s dental records. Researchers say her species lacks many typical features of chimpanzees, including large male canine teeth — a sign, say the researchers, that the ultra-aggressive social behaviors seen in chimpanzees were lost early in the human lineage. If so, male A. ramidus may have competed for female attention by bringing them food, rather than fighting each other. That could have contributed to the evolution of pair-bonding behavior [Wired.com]. Some anthropologists believe that early hominids may have switched from a four-limbed gait to a two-legged stride so that the males could more easily bring home the bacon.

Related Content:
The Loom: Ardipithecus: We Meet At Last has much more on the findings
80beats: Did a Strangely Human-Like Primate Give Rise to Monkeys, Apes, and Us?
80beats: No Tarzans Here: Earliest Humans Quickly Lost Their Ape-Like Climbing Abilities
DISCOVER: The 2% Difference examines what sets us apart from chimpanzees

Image: J.H. Matternes

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Feature, Human Origins
  • http://jessicaehan.com Jessica Ehan

    Oh god. 4.4 million years ago! I wonder what Earth looked like then. Full of chimpanzees? Life like that must be stress-free and fun!

  • bigjohn756

    Bacon? They had bacon back then?

    I am waiting to see how the creation scientists react to this discovery. No, not the bacon.

  • Zachary

    In the face of incontrovertible evidence, creationists will offer up the usual weak excuse, “God is testing our faith.”

  • Larry Linn

    Creationists are living proof that the evolution of Homo Sapiens is far from complete. They still have genes that have not evolved.

  • Tommy

    My Faith isn’t tested… I believe evolution could have happened but chimps and humans are two different species…If you say that they’re both just animals what stops someone from killing someone else? Has anyone ever wondered how and why we have intelligence?(or why we wonder)? Or why scientists and others get excited about a discovery? It proves how great God is and how glorious and united is his Creation. You can’t have a creation without a Creator!!

  • Jumblepudding

    Usually it isn’t about a test of faith. It’s just the discovery of another one of the miraculous creatures that god created. He made man, but preceding that, God individually made a bunch of gradations of non-human primates that increasingly resemble man, obviously. If you interpret it any other way you are faithless and damned. No test there.

  • asafrasta

    the creator of the universe(hashem itbarch) creat mankind & people of Babylon who call out to fight hashem the creator and to be Kings of the world :) .
    hashem itbrach bring them the opposite of kings & opposite of human being
    the creator of the universe change them to monkeys .
    and for us it’s a lesson to know hashem itbarch and to love , to respect him and to say
    ein od milvado itbarch bolam klal melch malche hamelachim hakdosh baroch ho

  • Michael

    It seems to me this latest information gives further evidence against evolution of man from an animal..chimp… Now we are back 4.4 million years ago, and we still find a human walking upright and separate from a chimp. I find the new theories to try to explain this new evidence of why this ancient ‘species’ is walking upright, in the woodland, (against the previous held theories of evolution of walking) to be pretty funny. I am not a religious or a creationist by the way. Yet, neither do I believe in the theories of evolution as they’ve been taught for years. Here, we have some facts. Archeological evidence. New mysteries of existence. Perhaps we need to use some common sense and not try so hard to come up with outlandish theories to explain things so they go along with current modes of thinking. It’s still not a chimp. Still has the teeth similar to modern humans today. Is it not a human because it has a different toe? Or a longer arm? What’s awesome is…who knows what will be discovered tommorrow! The evidence, even still, is that this creature is still more like human than ape. The theory of evolution has suggested that humans have evolved to Higher levels with time. Yet, in archeology, there continues to be evidence that as we go back in time, there were some amazing humans doing some amazing things. In comparison to modern humans. Evidence is not supporting theories. Perhpas it’s time for new theories way outside the box.

  • Chrysoprase

    The true beauty of science is it’s ability to change as new evidence comes to light. The fact that science is willing to throw away an old theory in light of new evidence is exactly how science is so effective and can improve our lives with things like electricity, plentiful food and clean water. I’m a Buddhist, and I can’t understand why Christians can’t accept the possibility that their God used evolution to bring about mankind. I personally believe in evolution and that there is no creator, but it seems to me that evolution and faith don’t have to be at odds. Why is it so acceptable that God made man out of mud, but not that He could influence evolution to eventually bring about a self-aware, sentient, conscious ape? If science disproves the literal interpretation of a story from your religion, that doesn’t mean that the story can’t still teach a lesson or explain something to those without sufficient understanding.

  • Chris

    Way more interesting than fighting about what is ape what is human would be: WHERE did the cosmic dust and power for the big bang come from?

  • David

    Hmm, I don’t really see the conflict. I DO believe in God and that He created us. It doesnt say anything about HOW or what means He used. Evolution, magic, His will, whatever you choose. The fact that we adapt over the years can’t be denied. Just look at some of the changes over the past few thousand years.(average taller, less dense etc) and while that may be due to a better diet and technology in some cases, that’s ONE change in a VERY short time. So yes, we change. we adapt(evolve….gasp) My faith isn’t tested. God just made us as survivors lol.

  • Dan

    Evolutionist’s can you please explain to me why the chimpanzee these days is not turning human. Did that just stop one day? Why is it okay to say are relatives are millions of years old but not days old. Your theory is missing some info. Do you think you look like a monkey?

  • oxjr

    Chrysoprase is so right…. Evolution is obviously how species change over time because we see it happening with species with short lifespans (like viruses) and we have recorded the changes. Why this would bother religious groups I have no idea…. do they think that god is an old bearded man who makes animals outta clay??? Seriously, the divine is a much more complicated entity than that …

    Evolution is gods paintbrush

  • TheLeopard

    It’s an insult to say that man evolved from apes. When did you ever see an ape lying drunk in the gutter or high on crack? It’s an insult, an insult to apes, that is.

  • Zachary

    Haha actually there are drunk monkeys, and surprisingly the ones who drink more are the more respected leaders. Plus, it’s just hilarious to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYuIYNaKynI

  • Chrysoprase

    @12 – Evolution does not mean to become better, to become more human, to become more intelligent, or to become more self-aware. Evolution is changing to become more suited to one’s environment. Sometimes it doesn’t work and you go extinct. Chimps aren’t becoming humans for the same reason iguanas aren’t becoming human, we diverged from chimps long ago and went our seperate ways, we evolved more brain power they evolved to be…well…chimps, who are in fact quite well suited to their natural environment. When someone says we’re related to chimps it does not mean chimps became humans long ago. Something between both of us existed long ago and then the species split, untill now we have chimps and humans. Chimps have relatively long lifespans, and to actively see evolution happening you need lifeforms with very short lifespans, like viruses or bacteria or amphibians. Evolution happens over the course of many generations, and there just havn’t been that many generations of chimps since science analyzed them. And yes, I do think I rather look like a monkey, or more accurately an orangutan (our closest living relative).

  • Phantoboy

    The accommodationist believer-evolutionists have it backwards. God is a product of evolution, not the cause, a side effect of human psychology just like every other mystical intuition we experience. At least that’s what the evidence increasingly implies, in contrast to the baseless just-so stories of “no conflict” theists who insist the Creator’s evolutionary plot-line took a leisurely 13 billion years to get around to us, to drag out the universal story from Big Bang to Big Macs in a byzantine shaggy-dog ramble of false starts, deadly mutations, natural mega-disasters and vanished species (featuring a long digression in Dinosaur World as a pointless prelude to us — the “intelligent” darlings He really was building up to all along!). Yeah, an obvious divine purpose in that. Tell us another one — we can use a laugh. Or, read Mark Twain’s “Was the World Made For Man?” to see how long ago, how humorously, and how easily this dopey, cheesy fairy tale of an evolutionist God was deconstructed.

    The true story: Evolution is the “paintbrush” that created God, an illusion of divine agency and purposeful design that accidentally cropped up in human minds, and that’s good enough explanation for anyone not beguiled by sentimental, supernatural biases. Science-friendly believers can spare us this self-serving special pleading every time another new hominid species is reported, because it just spoils the news. No, the “God used evolution to do it” dodge is not plausible or respectable, no matter how prestigious the scientist pushing it. It’s a silly and transparent ploy that appeals only to the intellectually evasive and ethically promiscuous. You’re fooling nobody who’s awake and alert, so knock it off and save yourselves the public buffoonery for a change. Evolution is God’s way of telling us he doesn’t exist, and doesn’t need to.

  • Lynn

    Way back in high school I took anthropology (1983). They have never said that man evolved from chimps, or any other primate currently living on earth for that matter. They have always said that humans and other primates had a common ancestor, aka the missing link. The current estimate is 7 million years ago, the animals that became humans and the animals that became other primates diverged. The missing link probably had no resemblance to current primates or humans. So why is that such big news???

    Why does National Geographic report “The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin’s time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today’s apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree.”

    Have people really believed that the missing link resembled a chimp??? Did we assume (incorrectly) that only humans have evolved in the last 7 million years but chimps and other primates have not? SERIOUSLY?

  • Zachary

    Kudos the last two posts. Phantoboy, rarely can a post so nuanced still be called succinct. Lynn, nail on the head about the natural difficulty to conceptualize a non-anthropocentric tree of life. I’m glad these posts in general have turned away from trolling to far more interesting issues. I especially like the the concept that chimpanzees have undergone a “greater” evolutionary change than homo sapiens. Not only does it emphasize in a very tangible way that evolution is not teleological, but it also might explain why a species might name itself homo sapiens sapiens. Is being redundant really all that wise ha?

  • Vong

    I completly agree with Michael. The longer we go back, the more fossils we find, the more evidence that shows humans are still humans. Its funny how you can draw a hairy ape like figure for fossils that was found.

    The most important thing everyone is ignoring: how biologically does an ape turn into a human? Yes, we are genetically pretty close, but we are 60% genetically the same as a banana. Think about it, you can draw pictures of how any fossil you dug up to be by your presupposed theory.

  • Gregor

    For all those who “agree” with the scientists that this is more human than chimp, please look at the photographs. The skull, teeth, and that “thumb toe” all screams “ape”. Even now some scientists are coming out against this “new” discovery (fossils found in the 1990’s) put together by an int’l (yet exclusive) team of 47 scientists, after years of sophisticated computer modelling. They are just now announcing it, because they think it’s humanoid, not ape. What’s funny, in any case, is that even these scientists are saying that the gap between ape and human just got bigger. But instead of seeing this hard evidence as a serious challenge to evolution (specifically common descent), they are predictably trying to mince words again and are saying that our ancestor trees evolved “earlier” than we thought.

    By the way, forcing “micro-evolution” in a lab with viruses is not the same as proving natural selection of complex animals over eons, OK? Just ask yourself how fractional wings or eyeballs could have been naturally selected to be survival advantages over thousands of generations. If it’s not complete, it’s useless folks. Think. Some of you evolutionists sound as brainwashed as the fundamentalist Chrisitans you despise.

  • http://NotionsCapital.com Mike Licht

    Ardi’s robust thumb musculature and flexible midcarpal (wrist) joint are perfect for text-messaging.



  • Lynn

    Ha Ha – so maybe the missing link was more like a hairy ape/teenager. Wonder if they could text with those opposable toes.

  • Lynn

    There are definitely many skeptics. The bones were as brittle as chalk and had been trampled. That is why a good scientific debate is needed. They also need to let outside scientists examine and recreate Ardi. I suspect that they could have indeed made the evidence fit their theory.

  • Wesley

    I don’t despise fundamentalist christians. I just don’t agree with them. If I hated everyone with a different belief than my own I’d be a pretty negative person, since I disagree with everyone I know on at least some points.

    But arguing with a hardcore creationist is an exercise in masochism, and pointless.

    I believe in God, but also in evolution because not believing in evolution would be like calling God a liar, which is something I doubt. But I don’t think God directed evolution to create us, that is also easily disputed scientifically. And I’m not so anthropocentric as to think humans are the most important creation in the universe or that we are an ‘end product’ of evolution. (Like evolution has stopped??)

    We are just lucky we evolved such high intelligence so we can have the pleasure of arguing about this stuff… 😛


  • Tommy

    Evolution was thought of way before Darwin fellas…
    St Augustine spoke against a literal explanation of Genesis in his treatise On The Literal Meaning of Genesis IN THE 300s:

    It often happens that even a non-Christian knows a thing or two about the earth, the sky, the various elements of the world,about the nature of animals, shrubs, rocks, and the like, and maintains this knowledge with sure reason and experience. It is offensive and ruinous, something to be avoided at all cost, for a nonbeliever to hear a Christian talking about these things as though with Christian writings as his source, and yet so nonsensically and with such obvious error that the nonbeliever can hardly keep from laughing.

  • Jumblepudding

    It is kind of funny how people rely so heavily on the artists’ reconstructions of these creatures to pass judgement on them. Like one of my friends who claimed that neanderthals were not a separate species because the reconstruction looked like “an old black man”. It is indicative of a real knee-jerk reactionary mindset. In addition, because the widely taught savannah theory has been brought into question, many are of the type that want to wishfully throw the whole theory of evolution out the window. They’re throwing out the bathwater, the baby, and the tub.

  • amphiox

    “Now we are back 4.4 million years ago, and we still find a human walking upright and separate from a chimp”

    Michael, If you knew anything at all about hominid evolution you would know that this is nothing surprising. Bipedalism is at least 6 to 7 million years old. Orrorin and Sahelanthropus date from then and both were bipedal upright walkers. Ardipithecus is at least 2 million years after the origin of upright walking.

    “can you please explain to me why the chimpanzee these days is not turning human”

    Dan, this question is nonsensical. You might as well be asking why your first cousin is not turning into you. You might as well ask why, since I am here, my mother is still around.

    “Just ask yourself how fractional wings or eyeballs could have been naturally selected to be survival advantages over thousands of generations”

    Gregor, before you attempt to make ignorant arguments like this you really ought to do some research. Both these questions have already been solved. For the eye, we have examples of living organisms (not fossils, living organisms) with eyes at every stage of complexity from a single photosensitive cell (and we also have multiple living examples of photosensitive cells at multiple levels of complexity and degrees of photosensitivity) to a camera-type with lense and cornea, and so we know that every single gradation functions and each gradation provides an improvement in visual acuity. Computer simulations have demonstrated that given a generation time of 1-2 years, it would take only half a million years to evolve a camera-type eye by natural selection starting with a single photosensitive cell. As for wings we have a splendid fossil record from a few downy tuffs to modern bird wings. A fractional wing, even just 1% of a wing, say just one single feather’s worth of a wing, will provide 1 feather’s worth more lift than no feathers, which will mean 1 feather’s worth greater height from which the owner of the feather can jump or fall, from a tree or cliff, to escape a predator or pounce on prey, without hurting itself in the process. 2 feather’s worth of wing is 1 feather’s worth greater lift and height than a 1 feather wing. 3 feather’s worth of wing is 1 feather’s worth better than 2 feather’s worth of wing. There is, in fact, no conceivable fractional wing that would not be useful, and not an improvement over a smaller fractional wing.

    Bat wings, I’ll grant you, are somewhat less well known and their origin something more of a mystery. But it is a mystery that will be solved, in time.

    “Evolution was thought of way before Darwin fellas…”

    Very true, Tommy, but Darwin and Wallace provided the first plausible mechanism that explained how evolution might have come about, and made testable predictions (all of which have been verified, to date) as to what kind of features we would expect to see in the natural world and the fossil record, which transformed evolution from an interesting idea into a scientific theory.

    The problem I have with anti-evolutionists is not necessarily that they disbelieve (which is their right) and argue against evolution, but that their arguments demonstrate such total and sometimes clearly willful ignorance of what evolution theory actually claims and the nature of the evidence in support of those claims. If you’re going to criticize something, it is your responsibility to actually study and understand what it is you’re trying to argue against in order to make reasonable arguments instead of spouting off a bunch of insipid, ignorant, and asinine platitudes.

  • Chrysoprase

    @21 – “Macro evolution” is the exact same thing as “micro evolution”. To claim that they are not is exactly the same as claiming one can walk to the store, but couldn’t walk across a country. Some creatures (phytoplankton, a jellyfish) have rudimentary eyes. In the planktons case it allows them to see the presence or absence of light. The jellyfish I speak of has eyes but no nervous system, and science can’t figure out how they work. This does not stop this jellyfish from navigating around obstructions. A creature that lives in a tree that develops a way to fall more slowly is less likely to die from a fall. So, feathers and fractional wings are not useless as you would claim. Look at a flying squirrel and a bat as an example. Now imagine a flying mouse that glides like a flying squirrel, as an ancestor to the bat. Fractional wings at work. The evolution we’ve seen is not always “forced” in a lab. Just search the term speciation and you’ll see plenty of examples found in nature. My favorite is the isolated colony of newts. In just two generations some of the newts will have evolved bigger teeth so they can eat their bretheren.

  • Juju

    Best thing about Christians is that they are biodegradable. Oh and I love their fairy tales.

    Ardi looking kinda hot.

  • Justin

    It’s so difficult to discuss science with people who don’t understand science. Please read up on evolution and then perhaps you’ll have a better understanding of what we’re discussing here.

    Chimps don’t evolve into humans. At some point some animal that was more human like and another animal that was more chimp like had the same parents. Those parents probably shared the characteristics of both. Chimps are no more evolving into humans as you are evolving into your father.

    @Gregor: It’s been shown that eyeballs in different species can have different paths of selection (i.e. arising out of completely different unrelated structures from different organisms). This is strong evidence that having eyeballs (and sight) is an evolutionary advantage that can be selected for. Your statement of “If it’s not complete, it’s useless” is obviously a paraphrasing of Behe’s theory of irreducible complexity. Although that theory has not been tested or experimented (as scientists are supposed to do), it makes certain predictions that turn out false. Please read up on the Bacterial Flagellum (one of irreducible complexity’s main examples) and precursor structures in other bacteria which are composed of fewer parts but have a perfectly valid use (and therefore “not complete” yet definitely not “useless”).

    I highly recommend watching the Nova documentary Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/id/program.html). It might answer a lot of questions you may have. At the very least it will give you a good basis on which to argue from instead of trying to do it from how you “think” evolution works.

    The Theory of Evolution is not based on nothing. It’s based on a number of facts that are seen in the natural world and certain hypothesis made about why they are that way. Those hypothesis are tested to see if they hold true. One of my favourite examples of evolutionary predictions that turned out to be true is the Human Chromosome 2 (http://www.evolutionpages.com/chromosome_2.htm). Now as a scientist, I’m not saying 100% that that’s what happened. I’m saying that based on the (observable) evidence that we currently have, evolution provides the best answer.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Monado, FCD

    At one time we assumed that big brains came first because they were our special feature. Fossils showed us that walking upright came first. Now, as we find the older fossiils, we’re seeing that the earlier ancestors of chimps & humans were not great climbers. They were moderate climbers and moderate walkers. The human lineage has specialized towards walking and running. The chimpanzee lineage has specialized towards climbing.

  • amphiox

    It’s almost comical watching some people make a big deal out of the fact that Ardipithecus has some traits that are more similar to modern humans than they are to modern chimpanzees, as if this was some kind of earth shattering, evolution-debunking, creation-affirming factoid.

    Since the split with our last common ancestors, chimpanzees have been evolving independently for 6 to 7 million years, just as long as humans have been. And through that entire time their lineage has been getting progressively more and more chimp-like. The hypothesis that our LCA with chimps was more chimp-like than human-like is primarily based on comparative studies of modern apes and humans. Humans seem to us to be the outlier, to be more different from the other modern apes than these apes appear to be from each other (it should be pointed out that there is a high likelihood of some human-centric bias in the selection of the criteria we consider to be most important in terms of measuring the magnitude of differences, too), so we hypothesize that our lineage has changed to most relative to the common ancestor. Since we have no fossils of the common ancestor and no fossils from the chimpanzee side of the split, this hypothesis does not rest of very solid evidential ground and it would not be surprising or earth-shattering to find out that it turns out to be erroneous on particulars.

    It is also a hypothesis that the first major adaptive change distinguishing the human side of the lineage from the chimpanzee side of the lineage was upright walking. And this hypothesis is based primarily on fossils from the human side of the split, and certain considerations of parsimony which may or may not ultimately hold true. It most certainly remains possible that upright gait developed prior to the split and that knuckle-walking developed independently and convergently in the chimps and the gorillas. It is even possible that upright walking predates the split with the gorillas and was the primitive condition. If we should one day find evidence that indicates this, it would be interesting and perhaps a little surprising, but it would not be earth-shattering and it would not change one bit the overall picture of human evolution – just the details.

    Ardipithecus had a bipedal gait and more human-like canines. It also had an ape-sized brain, ape-like forearm to leg length differential, ape-like jaw, ape-like molars, ape-like face, ape-like opposable big toes. It was an adept tree climber, but less adept than modern chimpanzees and earlier miocene apes. It could walk upright, but less efficiently than Australopithecus (which walked less efficiently than Homo), and it could not run very well at all.

    It is an excellent example of a transitional form between earlier miocene apes (many of which did not knuckle-walk) and later Australopithecus, which are excellent examples of a transitional form between earlier Ardipithecus and later Homo habilis, which was an excellent transitional form between earlier Australopithecus and later Homo erectus (possibly the first member of our lineage who could run efficiently in addition to walking upright), which was an excellent transitional form between earlier Homo habilis and later archaic Homo sapiens, which was an excellent transitional form between earlier Homo erectus and modern Homo sapiens sapiens.

    I could also point out the fossils of Orrorin and Sahelanthropus from 6-7 million years ago slotting neatly between the miocene apes and Ardipithecus, although these fossils are fragmentary (a thigh and hip joint from Orrorin and a single skull from Sahelanthropus).

    This discovery doesn’t change the big picture of our understanding of human evolution. It confirms it. Only the details have been clarified.

  • Chrysoprase

    There are two series of videos on youtube that I’d like to recommend for scientists, creationists, and everybody in between. If you are a creationist and would like to be able to discuss this issue in an intelligent manner without making yourself look ignorant, watch these. If you are a naturalist like me who often finds himself fighting ignorance and trying to make creationists understand the basic concepts of the scientific method and evolution, watching these will give you plenty of ammunition.

    “Fundimental falsehoods of creationism” is a video series that is educational and entertaining. “Why do people laugh at creationists” is a bit more partisan and gets off topic from time to time, but I liked them regardless.

  • Joe Bogus

    I truly hope that the Creationists are also faithful followers of FOX news and refuse to get swine flu shots. When the flu season is over, the resulting loss of morons will significantly improve the intelligence of the gene pool — which needs more chlorine.

    Meanwhile, Creationists, use your remaining moments to read two books:
    The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins
    The Evolution of God, by Robert Wright

    “When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity.
    When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”
    — Robert M. Pirsig, “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals” (1991)

  • Piltdowner

    I was going to remark on how wordy these God pos(t)ers are, then Amphiox had to puke on the keyboard..

    Careers are made and broken arguing over conjecture. The only place an archeologists nose belongs is in dirt. The only place for churchy noses is in books they haven’t banned yet.

  • amphiox

    “The only place an archeologists nose belongs is in dirt.”

    Only? So archeologists should never be sitting in an office thinking about what their discoveries might mean? They should never be working on a computer analyzing their finds? They should never be in a museum cataloging specimens? They should never be in a lecture hall teaching undergraduate students about their science? The only thing they should be doing is digging up stuff and putting them in big piles in dusty storerooms?

  • alli


  • alli


  • Jeff S

    “Bat wings, I’ll grant you, are somewhat less well known and their origin something more of a mystery. But it is a mystery that will be solved, in time.”

    amphiox, the mystery of bat wings has been solved – by Dr. Karen Sears, an evo-devo scientist who is now at the University of Illinois. Google her name, and you can read up on her findings.

  • Jack

    Good find!
    In response to some of the religious banter;
    In a christian’s eyes, he can only believe what the bible tells him, and the bible tells him that the truths in it will look stupid or silly or incomprehensible to the fleshly person (which they do) because the bible is spiritually discerned.
    Now what this says is that there is no real arguing with christianity, there is a big enough turtle shell in that verse to last them to the end of their lives. Even though there is plenty of logic and reasoning to grind any [silly] idea to dust that comes from the scriptures.

    Someone once said that you can’t convince someone of a thing they already don’t agree with (although not entirely true, a good principle to live by)
    And just as long as i am allowed to think freely, i’ll try to keep my hair out of other people’s faces.
    …although arguing /is/ fun

  • Jorge Castillo

    It looks to me very silly by part of those guys who are amazed for this discovery and they are expecting creationists to react in defence of their belief. In fact, there is nothing to defend. God and His creation speaks by itself. The new so-called discovery is one more of the fantasies some researchers bring to life to make the Science believers to keep worshipping the religion of Science which, in fact is a false religion.

  • Jen

    Why don’t the ignorant, brainwashed religious folks blog elsewhere? This blog is for science lovers.

  • Jorge Castillo

    Am I attacking your delusive belief? The fact is that the truth will enligthen what now is obscure. We will see at the end of the road who is being brainwashed. I’m sorry I can not help with those mind blinded who refuse to accept the truth.

  • Katelyn

    the is actually no proof ardi had fur. therefore he could have looked fairly humanistic. just saying. fossils are only bone. this doesn’t disprove creationism.

  • Pontifex

    I think a major issue in this discussion is the tendency of people to make assumptions about any given speaker’s background or motivations. When someone says they believe in God, it’s not up to another person to assume that means they are a Christian, and that, in being a Christian, they are fundamentally (no pun intended) incapable of responding to logic or reason. For example, #41 is making some huge assumptions about the way any given Christian’s mind might work. Deciding to follow a certain religion for any reason (and, yes, there are so many more reasons than the one you might be thinking) is not like turning on a magic switch and – voila! – Now that I’m a Christian, I can only interpret the Bible as being the literal and infallible and authoritative lens through which all truth must pass! I would rather argue that the vast majority of religious people do not at all see their world this way, but rather appreciate their religion as a broken tradition that can and does offer a framework for everyday life that science cannot. I believe these same people read articles like this and are absolutely captivated by the awesomeness of what science can offer.

    Unfortunately, the science-religion debate has become a case of the squeaky wheels getting the oil. Only the small percentage of people who are angry, judgmental, ignorant fundamentalists raise their voice because the rest of the religious people see it as a wasted enterprise to argue and would much rather listen and learn. In the same vein, only the very most smug and arrogant scientists make the decision that the supernatural is within their realm of understanding or even theorizing. These are the ones that define the debate. I implore us all to remember that the vast majority of people can and do reconcile both sides of this argument.

  • dave

    -some funny comments, and some TOO serious, and lengthy to read!-

    Ardi had a cousin on the Asian side. A few million years later, genetically, ‘he’ made his way to an area South of the Aral Sea. I call him Amu. [Ahh Moo] He invented Speech, and many things involved in Civilization. He was a GREAT walker, with his evolved feet.

    -Much variety existed WITHIN the Species.-

  • dave

    Me like Anphiox & PiltDOWNER axis… Entertaining!

  • Brian

    I think it’s funny people still argue the possibility that humans evolved from ancient apes. I guess some of us still need to make that evolutionary step in thinking.

    It’s even funnier when creationists use the argument, “ok, if you don’t believe in a creator, then where did the big bang come from?”… the same argument can be used against you guys. Where did “God” come from? Everything, as you say, needs a creator. So who/what created your creator? I don’t see how people can easily dissuade the possibility of spontaneous creation caused by a reaction of matter and anti-matter (Big Bang), but the idea of a spontaneous creator coming into existence on his/her/its own, is perfectly plausible.

    I think it just comes down to people not feeling comfortable shedding their beliefs that are reinforced by religious dogma. If you do, you begin to feel very small. They like to feel like miraculous creations orchestrated by an omnipotent invisible architect who watches over them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If I truly believed that notion, I probably wouldn’t want to shed my security blanket either. It’s just sad that our progression of thought as a civilization and species has become caught on this point. We won’t be able to continue to evolve until all of us accept the possibility that there is no “God” as religion portrays him. But rather, a set of principles and circumstances that fall perfectly into place, and creation is the result.

  • sschwartz

    For all those who keep asking “why is the chimpanzee not turning human” please re read the article. It in fact clearly stated that chimpanzees evolved more than humans did in the past 6 million or so years. However, that “branch” of the chimpanzee family that’s still around today evolved into what chimps are today. They became more chimp and less human just like humans became less chimps and more human and if you can’t see the common link between that…i’m glad we don’t share the same faith.


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