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Cindy Maddera

So Robin came into the lab the other day all excited about this article and I thought it would be a good Friday Science entry. New fossils have been discovered in the eastern Ethiopian desert that are the link between our ape-man ancestors and more primitive hominids. The more primitive hominids are known as Ardipithecus and date from between 4.4 million and 7 million years ago. They were very ape-like (sort of like the Bonobo), but walked on two legs. The new fossils discovered are from the post primitive species of Australopithecus called Au. anamensis. The Australopithecus has a short ape-like stature with a small brain and big teeth and it walked on two legs (remind you of any one?). This particular species dates back 4.1 million years ago.

There has been a big relationship gap (like a million years) between Australopithecus and Ardipithecus. The new fossils were found in two areas with Ardipithesus found in older rocks and Au.afarensis in overlying rocks showing that Au. anamensis closes that gap.

Of course this all depends on whether or not you believe that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old or only about 6,000 years old.