New research published in the journal Science last week announced new findings 17 years in the making from a 4.4 million year old human ancestor. The new discovery suggests the line of human evolution may be much more complex than previously thought.
Until recently, science had long taught that humans evolved from a species similar to modern-day chimps and gorillas, but "Ardi", a new intact skeleton found in Ethiopia, gives more evidence to the theory that chimps and humans evolved from a common ancestor. Lucy prompted scientists to believe that the shared ancestor of humans and apes looked like a chimp, but Ardi has many human-like features.
The first 3 minutes of this video include the scientists announcing the findings and animation of the skeleton, in the remaining 6 Ray Suarez interviews a leading paleoanthropologist.
"Just as we send planetary missions into deep space, this was a mission into the deep past, into Planet Earth's past, and into our past." Tim White, paleoanthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley
"If you were to ask someone on the street today, "What did an early ancestor of humans look like?" they would probably say, well, it would look like Lucy and, before that, it would look like a chimpanzee. What the fossils that are being described in Science today will tell you is that both of those conclusions are very incorrect." C. Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University
"The discovery is more than a skeleton. It's a very intact skeleton. It has hands, feet, head, many parts of the body that are very important in understanding our evolution, and it's one of 36 individuals all found in one geological horizon at 4.4 million years ago." Tim White, paleoanthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley
1. What is "Lucy"?
2. Where did humans come from?
1. Do exciting discoveries like this make you want to become an archeologist or paleoanthropologist? Why or why not?
2. What kind of schooling would you need to look for fossils or research the origins of humankind?
3. What surprises you about Ardi? Why?
4. Tim White says that this is "great news for African scholarship", what do you think he means?
Read the transcript: