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 Cleveland, Ohio.