Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Fossil Primate Ardipithecus Ramidus Described (Finally)

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the moment-we've-all-been-waiting-for dept.

Earth 369

Omomyid writes "I wasn't actually aware that Dr. Tim White of UC Berkeley had been 'sitting' on A. ramidus but apparently he has (I remember the original flurry of interest back in the '90s when it was announced), but now Dr. White and others have assembled a nearly complete skeleton of the 4.4mya specimen and the descriptions being carried by the NY Times and the AP are intriguing. Ramidus is clearly differentiated from the other Great Apes and also more primitive than A. afarensis (Lucy), providing a nice linkage backwards to the last shared ancestor between humans and chimpanzees. According to the NY Times, a whole passel of papers will be published in tomorrow's Science magazine describing A. ramidus." Update — 10/01 at 22:05 GMT by SS: Reader John Hawks provided a link to his detailed blog post about Ardipithecus, which contains a ton of additional details not covered in the above articles.

cancel ×

369 comments

further proof evolution is false (5, Funny)

Aurisor (932566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610079)

Now, as you can clearly see, there are TWO gaps in the fossil record, where before there was only one!

Nice try, science! /s

Re:further proof evolution is false (0, Offtopic)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610149)

I think it's interesting how the NY Times offers a commenting facility for a science article, when there have been a spate of op-eds recently where they have disabled comments.

Re:further proof evolution is false (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610329)

Perhaps because they don't want to duplicate The Guardian's CIF; where the debate more resembles an American townhall meeting with birther's present than debate.

Though trolling CiF can be fun...

Re:further proof evolution is false (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610341)

gah... birthers, not birther's

Re:further proof evolution is false (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610403)

birthers WTF?

Birthers, deathers, and other wingnuts (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610639)

Birthers are a group of clueless, angry white people who firmly believe President Obama was born outside the US. Deathers are a group, nearly identical in membership, that believes President Obama wants to enact 'death panels' that will deny needed health care to seniors. Most birthers are deathers, and vice versa. They also tend to believe that they either need to secede from the union, or stage a military coup, as the country has now become a communist dictatorship. Hope that helps.

Re:Birthers, deathers, and other wingnuts (4, Funny)

gmagill (105538) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610819)

They are also
the step-siblings of the Flat-Earthers http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm [alaska.net]

Re:Birthers, deathers, and other wingnuts (-1, Flamebait)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611095)

No they're not, Captain Clueless. The two (or three, as it were) have nothing to do with each other. Only the jackass who modded you "insightful" is more clueless.

Re:Birthers, deathers, and other wingnuts (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611053)

Not all birthers or deathers are white people.

Re:further proof evolution is false (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610481)

And of course, science articles, especially those relating to evolution, have never been the subject of any of that sort of nonsense.

Problem with Evolution Studies:It never studies IQ (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610649)

The problem in nearly all studies of evolution is that they never focus on brain-matter evolution. The focus is almost always on skeletal evolution.

Yet, brain-matter evolution is critically important. It determined whether we degenerated into Neanderthals or progressed into Cro-Magnon men.

We can see the effects of brain-matter evolution even today. IQ tests demonstrate that Japanese IQ is greater than African IQ by about 20 points. The consequence is startling: even though Japan is a barren rock lacking in natural resources, the Japanese transformed it into the 2nd richest nation in the world

Re:Problem with Evolution Studies:It never studies (2, Interesting)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610895)

I don't know if you noticed, but brain matter doesn't fossilize particularly well.

There's a correlation-is-not-causation problem with the Japanese/African IQ observation, the conclusion you're drawing is moderately racist.

Finally, the field that looks at brain structures and tells us why or how we evolved them is about 90% speculation.

Re:further proof evolution is false (3, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610763)

Now, as you can clearly see, there are TWO gaps in the fossil record, where before there was only one!

Don't fret. Your parents were found yesterday.

Re:further proof evolution is false (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29611021)

OMG - now I know I have psychic powers!

When I first read this article, I was like - soon someone will write a comment saying that this proves evolution is false.

And it so happens that it actually occurred! Now I know it must be fact that I indeed have psychic powers! How else can you explain that my initial thought that the almighty gifted me with psychic abilities is false when I have such overwhelming evidence?

I mean sure you can say that I his comment was posted first, and if you really investigate it you might notice a pattern of every time a new study on evolution comes out a religious fanatic says its proof evolution doesn't exist - hell you can even argue that all the evidence points to your theory that chances are I just guessed correctly or the right circumstances were setup for it.

But listen,

seriously,

It is just a theory after all.

And I am just telling you that we need to be open minded and not limit ourselves to a flawed theory because other theories conclude that I am indeed psychic.

I know, I know some non-believers here will probably think I'm wrong...

OMG did you see that I did it again!!!

Have a little perspective (4, Insightful)

Eevee (535658) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610085)

Why rush? After 4.4 million years, what's a decade or two?

Science (1, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610103)

I'm not trying to troll or anything - but why is it so interesting to study where humans have come from and why exactly monkeys? Yeah they maybe look the most of us from all the animals, but intelligently and in other ways they're totally different.

Monkeys have come from somewhere too - maybe humans are just another race from the same point, not related to monkeys in any way.

Re:Science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610135)

What's your point, exactly? The entire gist of this is that humans and monkeys/apes come from some common ancestor somewhere down the line, that's not a new idea.

Re:Science (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610757)

Any good programmer (hacker) is not going to recreate the wheel every time he does something, so if you were to set out to make several species, you would cut and paste some basic things at the DNA level and then modify things to suit your current needs. I think God made both the apes and the humans...I like to call him the life hacker...and by definition its no wonder humans, apes and even pigs and frogs are similar in some of their DNA structures to humans. Now I am not discounting evolution to some degree as it does happen, God is a smart enough hacker to put in some self modifying code to keep it interesting and to keep his creations viable as things change in the environment, evolution is critical to survival, I just don't believe it was to the extent that science is trying to prove that it is.

Re:Science (2, Interesting)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610867)

I am reminded of the Star Trek TNG episode where these guys who looked like a cross between a lizard and a human refused to admit the obvious fact that they were descended from dinosaurs.

Re:Science (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611049)

You mean this Voyager episode? [memory-alpha.org] I don't remember a TNG episode with a race that refused to admit they were descended from dinosaurs.

Re:Science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610879)

I think God made both the apes and the humans...I like to call him the life hacker...and by definition its no wonder humans, apes and even pigs and frogs are similar in some of their DNA structures to humans.

God is a smart enough hacker to put in some self modifying code to keep it interesting and to keep his creations viable as things change in the environment, evolution is critical to survival, I just don't believe it was to the extent that science is trying to prove that it is.

In that case, which hacker made "God"? He had to be totally UBER to be able to create something that divinely awesome. And then if you REALLY want to make your mind spin; who is the hacker that made the hacker that made God? Man this sounds like an infinitely recursive loop.

Re:Science (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611029)

Man this sounds like an infinitely recursive loop.

And not in a bad way. If you think about the computer simulations we're been able to create in the short existence of our computer systems, it's pretty clear that someone else could had created our whole world as a simulation. Computing power is quite infinite; we're making even more and more progress all the time. And if simulation theory would be correct, we cant possibly know what kind of systems are running us.

(yeah it sounds matrix like.. but atleast it makes more sense than any religious/god crap anyway)

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29611105)

Yep, the Markovians tended to steal ideas from each other.....

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610137)

Technically you are correct, we are related to pigs genetically as well - just like monkeys... we all have a common ancestor.

Re:Science (2, Insightful)

StrategicIrony (1183007) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610151)

srsly? :-o

Somehow the goofiness of vestigial things we have like tailbones and the appendix may lead one to believe that we're very unlikely to be "another race". Nobody has ever claimed (with any knowledge) that we descended directly from chimps, but merely that we likely have a common ancestor.

The simple fact that by sheer statistical analysis of decoded DNA, we're closest to chimps makes that a pretty logical starting point, don't you think?

We could start with snails and work backwards, but that seems a tad silly, eh?

 

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610817)

The tailbone is not vestigial. It's the attachment point for the muscles that allow you to take a crap. I challenge you to remove yours and see how well you get along...

Re:Science (3, Informative)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610163)

Monkeys have come from somewhere too - maybe humans are just another race from the same point, not related to monkeys in any way.

Well, humans come from apes, not monkeys.

Re:Science (3, Informative)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610503)

Well, humans come from apes, not monkeys.

Well, humans and apes came from a common recent ancestor.

Humans are descended from a monkey-like ancestor (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610815)

It might be fun to say that humans come from apes not monkeys but the content of that statement is pretty low. Humans are apes. We share a common ancestor with the other great apes which looked pretty ape-like. But before that apes and monkeys share common ancestors that if one looked at today one would call a monkey based on appearance. So saying that we're descended from apes not monkeys is a) nitpicky and b) not completely accurate anyways.

Re:Science (2, Interesting)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610179)

We haven't evolved from modern monkeys but we do share a common ancestor ... or do you think we went straight from amino acids to dropping acid?

Re:Science (5, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610241)

why is it so interesting to study where humans have come from and why exactly monkeys? Yeah they maybe look the most of us from all the animals, but intelligently and in other ways they're totally different.

This is exactly what's mentioned in one of the articles: "Ardi has many traits that do not appear in modern-day African apes, leading to the conclusion that the apes evolved extensively since we shared that last common ancestor."

It makes sense, if we evolved from the common ancestor in six million years, it's only reasonable to assume monkeys and apes also evolved. Think of the common ancestor not as an ape, but something that's as different from modern apes as it's different from humans.

Re:Science (1)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611045)

Keep in mind that this common ancestor most likely didn't walk on two legs, wasn't hairless, and probably couldn't control its breathing, making it impossible to either talk or swim. So, yes, chimps certainly must have evolved somewhat, but not as much as humans and not in anything resembling the same direction. Therefore, this common ancestor was an ape (not a "monkey" as some insist on suggesting), though not a "modern" ape.

Also, no one seems to have pointed out, this creature bears a strong resemblance to modern yeti/sasquatch/bigfoot sightings.

Re:Science (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611047)

This is exactly what's mentioned in one of the articles: "Ardi has many traits that do not appear in modern-day African apes, leading to the conclusion that the apes evolved extensively since we shared that last common ancestor."

It makes sense, if we evolved from the common ancestor in six million years, it's only reasonable to assume monkeys and apes also evolved. Think of the common ancestor not as an ape, but something that's as different from modern apes as it's different from humans.

My useful (I think) analogy: I did not descend from my cousin. We both descended from my grandmother, who is different than either of us.

Re:Science (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610249)

but why is it so interesting to study where humans have come from and why exactly monkeys?

We're not descended from monkeys; we're just descended from a species that is also the ancestor of the other great apes.

Re:Science (0)

Steve Franklin (142698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611125)

Actually, assuming the apes are descended from monkeys, we ARE descended from monkeys, just farther back.

Re:Science (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610275)

why is it so interesting to study where humans have come from

How could you NOT be interested in knowing where humans came from?

and why exactly monkeys?

Because both the fossil record and DNA say that chimps are humans' closest relatives, with 96% identical DNA.

intelligently and in other ways they're totally different

The intelligence is only a matter of degree, and in many (perhaps more) ways that matter more than intelligence they are the same as us.

Monkeys have come from somewhere too

Monkeys and apes (including us; we are an ape species) have the same anscestors, for reasons mentioned above.

I'm not trying to troll or anything

If you are, you're doing a poor job of it.

Re:Science (0, Offtopic)

wurp (51446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610515)

If you are, you're doing a poor job of it.

I dunno, several people (including you) responded to his lame post.

Re:Science (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610747)

There's more to trolling than getting people to respond to your post. From slashdot's FAQ:

Troll -- A Troll is similar to Flamebait, but slightly more refined. This is a prank comment intended to provoke indignant (or just confused) responses. A Troll might mix up vital facts or otherwise distort reality, to make other readers react with helpful "corrections." Trolling is the online equivalent of intentionally dialing wrong numbers just to waste other people's time.

Well, maybe he was just trying to waste my time, maybe you're right. Wikipedia's definition [wikipedia.org] is similar.

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[2]

At least he was on topic.

Re:Science (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610933)

Well like I said, it wasn't trolling - it's just what I've been thinking and how I see it myself. I'm not really into religion myself, but nor do I believe fully into evolution theory from apes to human either. That's all they are, theories. I find it just as possible, actually even maybe more so, that the whole system could be just simulated. Like we have computer simulations, but our simulation would be just a little bit more advanced.

It's stupid to just mindlessly believe into something that the current age of technology can provide information about. At some point people believed the world was a pancake and the guy who dared to object that and said it was ball shaped (sorry, cant remember the word right now), got killed for his "disbelieving". Look at where we are now.

Re:Science (4, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610825)

How could you NOT be interested in knowing where humans came from?

A religious upbringing, a lack of imagination, and a poor understanding of why abstract scientific endevours can be of practical use to mankind all help. That and having your head firmly planted up your posterior.

Re:Science (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610371)

A few points:

1. We are very clearly related to monkeys, but morphologically and genetically.
2. A helluva lot of behavioral research over the last fifty years has shown that even in our psychological makeup, we're not really that different from our closest relatives. Tool-use, language, culture have all been seen in other primates. Admittedly is nowhere near our level, but our capabilities are more about degrees of difference than in any particular novelty.
3. Your last sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

Re:Science (0, Offtopic)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610745)

3. Your last sentence makes no sense whatsoever.

And his first sentence is a a lie. Anyone intelligent enough to form a sentence is capable of reasoning out the answers to the "questions" he is asking. That he deliberately injects those questions (whatever they are--I didn't actually open his comment, only the replies to it) into this forum is evidence that he has an aggressive ideological malignancy.

Re:Science (1)

Cougar333 (1422389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610469)

Why is it interesting to study anything? Science is a way of describing the physical world around us. Clearly you lack appreciation for such knowledge. Perhaps join the apes? They don't seem too interested in science either.

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610571)

You're a twat.

Looks like everyone agrees with me judging by the comment rating on this drivel.

I believe you are not trolling (4, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610921)

From what I have seen, you are too earnest and concerned about your karma to be trolling. So let me kindly point out some of the misconceptions others may have missed. Obviously, you get the point that nobody thinks we are descended from monkeys. That's been hammered home, yes? But above that, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that biological science consists of deciding which critters look like which other critters. While this used to be the case, back before we had better methods, we can now do genetic analysis and figure out much more accurately what is or was related to what.

You also seem to be confused as the the concept of 'related.' If you and your sister are descended from the same point, say, your mother and father, are you related? Yes. Yes you are. We are not the descendants of monkeys, but we are still in the same family, so to speak. In fact, based on genetic evidence, even several million years after we split off from our common ancestor, we were still occasionally getting it on with them and making babies. It was discussed right here on Slashdot some time ago.

I can't really tell you why this whole idea of common descent is interesting, either you find it so or you don't. I can tell you why it is interesting to other people, though. Science is a process that approaches, but never reaches the truth. We make theories, and we see what predictions those theories make. Then we look for evidence showing whether or not those predictions are true, Finally, if the evidence shows the predictions are not true, we modify our theories. For instance, we had to modify Newton's theory of gravity when its predictions about the orbit of Mercury proved false. That lead to the Einstein's theories of relativity. But we still use Newton's theories in day to day engineering, because they are simpler to calculate and give correct results outside of relativistic situations. The truth or falsehood of theories is irrelevant, the only relevant question in science is, does the theory make accurate predictions?

How does this relate to the theory of evolution? Well, it is one piece of a giant puzzle. We have all of these pieces of evidence: fossils, DNA, carbon dating, and so on. They all fit together, forming a giant structure of factual support for the theory of evolution. If even one of these pieces did not fit, for instance, if we found a rabbit skeleton from the Jurassic period, then we would have to modify inconceivably large chunks of our current theories, not just evolution, but just about everything would need reevaluation.

So here we have a new piece. Does it fit? I find that question interesting. Many other people do too.

The photo of the Ardipithecus (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610133)

Wow, I saw her walking down Ash street the other night. I didn't know they had crack 4.4 million years ago!

Re:The photo of the Ardipithecus (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610477)

That was around the time they first figured out how to make smoke and crack rocks.

Re:The photo of the Ardipithecus (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610919)

Not to be confused to the 1980's when they first figured out how to make rocks, and smoke crack.

Re:The photo of the Ardipithecus (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610601)

Some people have no sense of humor. Troll? I guess the moderator must be a crack smoker, otherwise how would that offend him?

Would have been funnier if... (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610141)

"I wasn't actually aware that " Dr. Tim White of UC Berkeley had been 'sh*ting' on A. ramidus but apparently he has (I remember the original furry of interest back in the '90s when it was announced)".

Damn 4chan and it's mental perversion!

More importantly.... (-1, Offtopic)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610153)

...can she run Linux?

Re:More importantly.... (5, Funny)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610373)

...can she run Linux?

No.

The OS designed for monkeys is MS Windows.

Re:More importantly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610597)

Hey, I use Windows! Oh....

Creation Theory (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610165)

Wait, were not descendants from apes, were were created by *GOD*.

-----
Play 3D Sexvilla 2 ? [3d-sexgames.com] Show off your main character! [slashdot.org]

Re:Creation Theory (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610351)

Eh, what?

most surprising conclusion from this (0)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610169)

The most surprising conclusion that can be drawn from this (so far, who knows what we'll find out tomorrow when that passel comes out?) is that apes are not like an 'inferior' human species, rather they specialized in one direction, and we specialized in another direction. We became more social, whereas chimpanzees grew longer fingers and became capable of swinging through trees. Of course there is no reason to believe that this fossil is a direct ancestor of humans either, it is as likely as not a cousin.

Re:most surprising conclusion from this (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610297)

That apes are not an inferior species but instead specialized in one direction and humans in another has been well understood by biologists since at least the 70's...the 1870's.

Re:most surprising conclusion from this (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610399)

I'm not sure where you get the idea we're more social. Both members of genus Pan are highly socialized (pygmy chimps are probably more socialized than humans are).

Re:most surprising conclusion from this (2, Funny)

Again (1351325) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610659)

I'm not sure where you get the idea we're more social. Both members of genus Pan are highly socialized (pygmy chimps are probably more socialized than humans are).

Umm... Do they have Facebook? I thought not. So obviously they are even less social than me.

Sex for food? (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610447)

We became more social, whereas chimpanzees grew longer fingers and became capable of swinging through trees

Another article [nationalgeographic.com] mentions that " Instead of fighting for access to females, a male Ardipithecus would supply a "targeted female" and her offspring with gathered foods and gain her sexual loyalty in return.
  To keep up his end of the deal, a male needed to have his hands free to carry home the food. Bipedalism may have been a poor way for Ardipithecus to get around, but through its contribution to the "sex for food" contract, it would have been an excellent way to bear more offspring. And in evolution, of course, more offspring is the name of the game"

Re:Sex for food? (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610791)

Sex for food? It totally works.

-l /Yeah, I'm the cook in our family...

Re:Sex for food? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610937)

This behavior aspect is conjecture that I am surprised any scientific journal would describe in such definitive terms.

It bothers me (0)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610181)

...when I see a fossil that appears to be disproportionate. It's too easy to forget that there are many fossil forgers out there and Piltdown Man was not the last hoax that fooled otherwise reputable scholars.

It may also be genuine but of an individual who suffered from some sort of condition, as was suspected for Homo Florensis.

Unless the fossil has been X-Rayed or otherwise tested to confirm it is authentic, AND until a second specimen has been found, I'll remain unconvinced that this is anything new.

(The long delay in publishing is another concern, as I would not expect that unless there was some questionmark over the reliability of the find.)

Re:It bothers me (5, Informative)

mrisaacs (59875) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610265)

If you had read the article - you would know that there were pieces of a large number of individuals found.

You can assume carbon testing was done, it's routine.

There's also the issue of associated plant and animal material in the fossil layer - which tends to give credence to the find.

Re:It bothers me (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610595)

Without ends on the femur it's pretty hard to be sure about the height. There's a lot of art to this science and that still leaves most conclusions still debatable. Not that I would disagree, I'm just sayin'. Maybe that's why it took so long to publish.

Re:It bothers me (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610703)

Without ends on the femur it's pretty hard to be sure about the height.

That's what God invented comparative anatomy and comparative developmental biology for. While you're never going to know exact average heights for any extinct species, you can do some reasonably good guessing by looking at other similar and related animals for which you do know something about to get at least a reasonable number.

Re:It bothers me (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611079)

Compared to which species? The only picture I saw was in the Times article. They mention bones from other specimens but did any of them have intact fibulas AND femurs? Probably not. Considering all these bones have been through, that is a fabulous set that they have there. I was dissenting with GP about the conclusions that the QUALIFIED EXPERTS have arrived at, and agreeing with you. I'm just saying that these are subjective conclusions, subject to differing interpretations. I imagine Dr. White would concur.

Re:It bothers me (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611111)

Compared to modern apes, that's what species. It isn't perfect (sometimes we can fooled by much greater sexual dimorphism than modern humans exhibit), but generally speaking, it's likely that this animal wouldn't have been terribly different than modern apes (including us).

Re:It bothers me (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610693)

Minor quibble: C-14 is good for dating materials up to 60,000 years old (half life is ~5730 years) so they might have used potassium-argon dating which is good for materials over 100,000 years old.

Re:It bothers me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610279)

From the article: "...describe the analysis of more than 110 Ardipithecus specimens from a minimum of 36 different individuals, including Ardi." And yes, the specimens were scanned with a CT scanner so that they could digitally reconstruct the skull.

Re:It bothers me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610441)

Oh, for heaven's sake.

A) Ardipithecus ramidus was already described from earlier, more fragmentary specimens in the 1990s. This IS a second and better specimen ... and then there are parts of several other individuals known from the same site. How many is enough? If they did suffer from "some sort of condition", it must have been rather widespread. Or maybe the "condition" they were suffering from was that they were a few million years older than humans of today.

B) X-rayed? The thing was tomographically X-rayed and it's anatomy figured out in excruciating 3-dimensional detail.

C) the "long delay" in publishing is not a concern. It takes rather a while to put together this kind of detail from dozens of different authors, not to mention the excavation of the site and the preparation of the specimen first. It's a whole special issue of Science. That would take a couple of years at least, assuming you had the actual research already finished.

I'm sure you can find some better reasons to be skeptical than what you list.

Re:It bothers me (2, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611013)

I'm sure you can find some better reasons to be skeptical than what you list.

Yes, but perhaps his real reasons for being skeptical will earn him a vicious mocking from others, and he wishes to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt without stating what his real issues are?

Re:It bothers me (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610471)

The long delay can be attributed to the scientist actually doing his job. Catalog, research verify, then publish. Its the difference between reactionary pseudo science and actual work that produces results.

Listen up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610187)

Look, I asked you ladies to get your pussies ready. Did you? Judging by the quality of pink stink i've been wrapping around my dink, I'd say no.

Fortunately for you cum-dumpsters, TheBunny has provided some helpful tips for getting your pussy ready for Tucker Max!

  • Cut lots of onions beforehand to prepare for the inevitable tears
  • hang out with a homeless guy to prepare for the smell
  • accidently sex-text your parents, teachers, coworkers, etc. to prepare for the shame and humiliatation
  • Stock up on RU-486 and peniccillin.
  • pro-actively think up an explanation for why your face was violently slammed into a wall

    Thanks in advance.

Next: Ardipithecus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610213)

genome assembly (by Craig Venter, of course) , creation, and deployment to defeat the
Criminals-In-Congress [crooksandliars.com] .

Yours In Ashgabat,
Kilgore Trout

Hypotheticals to muse upon (1, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610215)

If a genetically-modified human were cloned today, would that clone be outside common ancestry?

Would it be designed?

Do we know this hasn't happened in the distant past?

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (2, Insightful)

RelliK (4466) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610411)

If a genetically-modified human were cloned today, would that clone be outside common ancestry?

nope.

Would it be designed?

not any more than a naturally occurring sequence of mutations

Do we know this hasn't happened in the distant past?

The burden of proof is on you to show that it did.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610513)

nope.

Interesting. I thought words meant what they mean, like "ancestry" denoting biological descent.

not any more than a naturally occurring sequence of mutations

Well, self-evidently false. See the part about "words meaning what they mean".

The burden of proof is on you to show that it did.

I was hoping to hear an answer on more of a philosophy or philosophy of science level, rather than on Judge Judy fan level.

But thanks!

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610865)

I was hoping to hear an answer on more of a philosophy or philosophy of science level, rather than on Judge Judy fan level.

No, you were hoping to hear something compatible with whatever drivel you heard in church last Wednesday night. That's called cognitive dissonance.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610911)

You saw me in church last Wednesday? Must have been some biologically-enhanced clone.

Glad to hear so many Slashdotters nowadays have personal omniscience, though. Arguments depending on that implicit premise are so amusing!

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610525)

What if there's no such thing as gravity, and we're all just held down by the FSM's noodly appendage?
What if the world were created last Thursday, complete with us and all our memories?
What if the entire universe is just a figment of my (deranged) imagination?

See, hypotheticals are fun!

In all seriousness though, assuming that someone/something reached down and tweaked our DNA, then left the solar system leaving no other evidence behind takes a pretty big leap. Especially when we have no reason to think that such a tweaking is necissary to explain our evolution.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (0, Troll)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610603)

Well, for one, the Cambrian Explosion would be such a "reason to think". But, given you apparently have the attribute of personal omniscience, and know not merely that this is "no reason to think" so, but personally contain all knowledge of all humans and can review that knowledge to verify a complete absence of any plausible "reason", I should probably find someone less... supernaturally epistemologically-challenged to debate.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (4, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610771)

Ok, if you insist I not be flippant about the subject, so be it.

What creationists don't understand is that science isn't about killing religion, science couldn't care less what the religious implications of its discoveries are. Science is about the quest for knowledge, and knowing that humanity didn't evolve naturally would be the most important piece of knowledge ever discovered. In short, if evidence existed that contradicted our current scientific beliefs, it is in every scientists interests to bring that evidence to the table; the risk might be large but the payoff is enormous.

Unfortunately, the claim of an intelligent creator is difficult bordering on impossible to prove scientifically; it makes no predictions that can be tested, it happened so far in the past that there no remaining evidence to support it, and, unlike evolution, it is not an ongoing phenomonon.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611057)

Hmm... well, I'm not interested in a false dichotomy of "evolution" versus "religion", actually. "Evolution occurs" is clearly the case, I'm just not interested in the scientifically-invalid non-sequitur inference of "only evolution occurs".

Whatever my views (which, yes, I know you have to assert in the absence of any actual knowledge of what they are, to start your false-dichotomy argument), my question is interesting to me from a scientific standpoint apart from any religious question.

What precisely does "common ancestry" mean? If we continue with genetic engineering to extent N, at some point would common ancestry no longer be true? When would we know that that fundamental change had occurred?

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610617)

There is a fairly significant gap in the fossil record. Absent an explanation for this gap, an external party modifying our ancestors to create us is not unreasonable. There is no evidence for your sequence of events either, and it seems rather odd to me that we could've had a significant population of ancestors that failed to leave a fossil record.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610883)

...it seems rather odd to me that we could've had a significant population of ancestors that failed to leave a fossil record.

That isn't at difficult to explain. The problem lies in the assumption that evolution is continuous, steady change over time and that fossilization events are spread evenly throughout history. In reality, neither of those is true. Sudden changes in environment the rate of evolution to increase as ecological niches are created and destroyed. Likewise, fossilization events are rare and not spaced evenly throughout history. All it requires to create a seamingly large gap in the fossil record is for there to be a dearth of fossilization events while at the same time a sudden change in environment.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (3, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611165)

and it seems rather odd to me that we could've had a significant population of ancestors that failed to leave a fossil record.

It's not really so odd. First, however, is the assumption that there is a significant population who didn't leave fossils. It's probably more likely that there are fossils and they just haven't been found. The Earth is big and only a small percentage of it has been searched for fossils.

Then you have to consider that not all geologic structures and death conditions are conducive to fossil formation. Go out into a wild area today and count the number of animals you find. Then count the number of somewhat intact carcasses you find. You won't find many. So of the critters out there alive today, only a tiny percentage of them will end up as fossils in another few million years. On top of that, if the places humans like to live today were in similar conditions (near large sources of water, for example), there's a good chance that we've built over any fossils many times over.

I suspect that if you made a Drake-Equation like formula for predicting finding fossils of any particular type that even if many fossils might exist, very few of them would be found. Consider that of the millions of A. afarensis that probably existed, we have only found a handful of their fossils.

So sure, there is a gap, but there's a pretty reasonable explanation for that gap. Until we have exhausted such possibilities, and without startling evidence to the contrary, we can't seriously claim that the gap in the fossil record is caused by divine or extra-terrestrial intervention.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610657)

If a genetically-modified human were cloned today, would that clone be outside common ancestry?

No, because it would still be human. Many species of prokaryotes swap genes all the times, sometimes with other Prokaryotes of much different lineages. Even in eukaryotes, horizontal gene transfer can happen (very often due to retroviral infections, which can in fact act as a gateway for genes from different groups to get transplanted).

Would it be designed?

In your example, yes.

Do we know this hasn't happened in the distant past?

No we don't, but there's no evidence for it, so there's no particular reason to think that it happened.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610755)

No, because it would still be human. Many species of prokaryotes swap genes all the times, sometimes with other Prokaryotes of much different lineages. Even in eukaryotes, horizontal gene transfer can happen (very often due to retroviral infections, which can in fact act as a gateway for genes from different groups to get transplanted).

Given this, care to venture to offer a precise working definition of "common ancestry"? If it does not mean "reproductive descent" (which, technically, I agree with), and rather means something akin to "however it happened, by whatever means, it's common descent" then the term seems tautological, and rather meaningless.

Re:Hypotheticals to muse upon (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610837)

Clones are hardly unknown in the biological world. Many species of prokaryotes are clones (that is, the daughter organism is nearly identical to the mother, and there is no recombination involved).

I know what you and the parent are trying to say, that if we insert or modify the genetic makeup of some cloned individual, that somehow it is "parentless" and thus beyond common descent. But that's not the case, not unless you made an individual up many different genetic sources. Still, if this is a modified clone, it ultimately had genetic parents. If I got a genetic therapy for some hereditary condition, would that mean I ceased to have genetic parents, that common descent no longer applied?

Finally! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29610259)

We have a link between Conservatives and Homo Sapiens!

Re:Finally! (2, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610433)

Is that you Nanci Pelosi?

Re:Finally! (0, Offtopic)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610605)

Is that you Nanci Pelosi?

I thought she was the specimen.

Re:Finally! (0, Offtopic)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610647)

Is that you Nanci Pelosi?

I thought she was the specimen.

I'm sorry in advance to any Ardipithecus Ramidus I may have offended by associating you with Nancy Pelosi.

Ewww (1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610467)

Dr. Tim White of UC Berkeley had been 'sitting' on A. ramidus
Is this something like Clinton wanting to "date" an Aztec mummy?

Ardipithecus FAQ (5, Informative)

John Hawks (624818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610579)

I have an FAQ up on my blog [johnhawks.net] .

It gives some of the story behind the news, and delves into the anatomy and implications for hominin origins. I'll be updating it as the day goes on to add more information.

I see what they are trying to piece together, but (0, Troll)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29610845)

Any good programmer (hacker) is not going to recreate the wheel every time he does something, so if you were to set out to make several species, you would cut and paste some basic things at the DNA level and then modify things to suit your current needs. I think God made both the apes and the humans...I like to call him the life hacker...and by definition its no wonder humans, apes and even pigs and frogs are similar in some of their DNA structures. Now I am not discounting evolution to some degree as it does happen, God is a smart enough coder to put in some self modifying code to keep it interesting and to keep his creations viable as things change in the environment, evolution is critical to survival, I just don't believe it was to the extent that science is trying to prove that it is.

Re:I see what they are trying to piece together, b (4, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611073)

Except that that is not how the evidence points. As a couple of scientists I've talked to have pointed out, the real destruction of your theory isn't genetics itself, it's developmental biology. If all organisms were, as you said, simply examples of copy and paste, why on Earth would, during developmental, would fetal snakes have signals that basically turned off the leg producing genes? Those genes are still there, still pretty close to identical to the genes found in the closest relatives to snakes that do have legs.

In fact, one of the chief arguments against life being engineered, that common genes being an example of procedural code being moved around like it was some sort of biological glibc is that everything about development is made up of hacks of this kind. Whether it's developmental hacks that shut down instructions to grow legs, to the very nature of many organisms physiology (such as a certain bipedal species with spines and knees only halfway adapted to full time upright walking) that would indicate that if your theory is right, the guy that made life is outrageously incompetent or malicious to the extreme.

Besides, it isn't just a matter of some similar genes. It is the differences in genes that are often key as to relatedness. Chimps and humans have a high degree of similarity, but it isn't one-to-one for many genes. Over time the two species have diverged, which means that even the same genes aren't always identical. These differences, particularly in mtDNA, can actually be used as molecular clocks to make estimates as to when the two species diverged.

In short, the evidence does not support your point of view. That view was long ago falsified. We are not the products of copy-and-pastes, but the products of evolutionary forces that work on populations over long stretches of time.

Re:I see what they are trying to piece together, b (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29611163)

Um, did you read my comment completely, or did you just respond after the mention of God? I did not discount evolution I only said its part was not as important as some would like to believe :). As far as all creatures being a result of cut and paste off one original I did not say that either now did I?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...