Scientists piece together one of Lucy’s neighbors north of
Awash. But this one lived more than
million years earlier.
Scientists have once again found the old bones of a small
woman in Ethiopia.This time, the pieces
of this four-foot-tall woman now called Ardipithecus ramudus are being called
the oldest hominid known to science.
At press conferences held in Addis Ababa and in Washington,
D.C., spokesmen for a group of scientists known as the Middle Awash project
announced that the woman scientists now call Ardi” is 4.4 million years
old.More than a million years older
that Lucy. Both were found in the floodplain
of the Awash River Valley, about 45 miles from one another.
In an interview today with Meleskachew Amha, Middle Awash
co-director and paleoanthropologist Dr. Berhane Asfaw explained Ardi’s
significance in scientists’ search for man’s origins.
More than 40 scientists involved in the project have spent
17 years piecing together the pieces of bones collected from 35 individuals in
the site. Tim White, a
paleoanthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley and the
director of Middle Awash, was a principal researcher with Dr. Donald Johanson
when they discovered Lucy in the 1970s. White, Berhane and Yohannes are
co-authors of a few of the 11 academic papers publishers today by Science
magazine describing the scientific importance of the find.
One of the researchers is Yohannes Haile-Selassie, who as a
graduate student in 1994 found two pieces of bone that proved to be part of one
of Ardi’s fingers. His discovery led to
the unearthing more than 135 other pieces, some of which proved to be part of
the partial skeleton of Ardi. Yohannes
is now curator of anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in