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Ardi’s kind had a skull fit for a hominid

Reconstructed fossil of 4.4-million-year-old species has humanlike features

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9:45am, April 15, 2013

KNOXVILLE — One of the most controversial proposed members of the human evolutionary family, considered an ancient ape by some skeptical scientists, is the real hominid deal, an analysis of a newly reconstructed skull base finds.

By 4.4 million years ago, Ardipithecus ramidus already possessed a relatively short, broad skull base with a forward-placed opening for the spinal cord, an arrangement exclusive to ancient hominids and people today, William Kimbel of Arizona State University in Tempe reported on April 11 at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists annual meeting.

Although features of the skull’s floor evolved substantially in Homo species leading to modern humans, Kimbel said, those changes appeared in piecemeal fashion starting at least a couple of million years earlier in hominids such as Ardipithecus.

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