Latest fossil find strengthens chain of human evolution

| 28 Comments

The study was reported in the journal Nature

Asa Issie, Aramis and the origin of Australopithecus Nature 440, 883-889 (13 April 2006)

Tim D. White, Giday WoldeGabriel, Berhane Asfaw, Stan Ambrose, Yonas Beyene, Raymond L. Bernor, Jean-Renaud Boisserie, Brian Currie, Henry Gilbert, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, William K. Hart, Leslea J. Hlusko, F. Clark Howell, Reiko T. Kono, Thomas Lehmann, Antoine Louchart, C. Owen Lovejoy, Paul R. Renne, Haruo Saegusa, Elisabeth S. Vrba, Hank Wesselman and Gen Suwa

The latest fossil unearthed from a human ancestral hot spot in Africa allows scientists to link together the most complete chain of human evolution so far.

The 4.2 million-year-old fossil discovered in northeastern Ethiopia helps scientists fill in the gaps of how human ancestors made the giant leap from one species to another.

That’s because the newest fossil, the species Australopithecus anamensis, was found in the region of the Middle Awash - where seven other human-like species spanning nearly 6 million years and three major phases of human development were previously discovered.

Source

28 Comments

I find such discoveries to be absolutely enthralling and fail to understand why there are some who feel threatened and offended by the dedication and thoroughness of our scientists. We are uncovering the most intimate details about ourselves and we should rejoice that no man or god can deny our inquisitive nature. What was it that Sagan said … “We are star stuff pondering the stars.” Sounds like some pretty good pondering has been going on lately. Much thanks.

This is very exciting research (in your face DI).

Is there a way to briefly and effectively communicate that evolution is more like branching than direct lineal change, so that it permeates into common understanding? Otherwise we get the oft stated “but why are there still monkeys”, even from non-creationists. The article is good, but it still implies linearity.

Dr. Tim White has been very busy there in Kenya!

Aaargh, no! One more transitional form, that’s two gaps instead of one!

How many more of these discoveries can the theory of evolution withstand?

Oops, rather, Rift Valley Africa.

Gerard Harbison said:

Aaargh, no! One more transitional form, that’s two gaps instead of one!

How many more of these discoveries can the theory of evolution withstand?

Given enough time there will be an infinite number of transitional forms, and an infinite number of gaps.

Scary thought.

Cue the DI spin machine – “Australopithecus anamensis is not a threat to intelligent design because…” 3… 2… 1…

“Cue the DI spin machine — “Australopithecus anamensis is not a threat to intelligent design because…” 3… 2… 1…”

… there is no evidence for evolution. OR

… a. anamensis is just an ape. OR

… its a hoax.

(ironic sarcasm)

… there is no evidence for evolution. OR

… a. anamensis is just an ape. OR

… its a hoax.

I’m going with “ID proponents have never denied common descent”. Anyone care to make a wager? :P

Since when did the DI limit itself to one response? IDiots seem to be paid by how many times they can contradict one another. Or themselves, for that matter.

Corkscrew Wrote:

I’m going with “ID proponents have never denied common descent”. Anyone care to make a wager? :P

They’ll probably bury that disclaimer in their usual “but it’s not evidence for ‘Darwinism’” nonsense. Meanwhile the classic creationists will do the usual knee-jerk “it’s just another ape,” and the DI will just look the other way for the sake of the big tent.

As usual I applaud the discovery, but cringe how the article hypes it. What I’d really like to see, however, are more fossils from that era and later on the chimp/gorilla branches, or better yet, something from just before the splits. Not, repeat not, because I don’t already fully accept evolution, but just because it will (1) better fill in the “tree”, and (2) be more ammunition against those who misrepresent it.

A slightly more measured response from John Hawks:

http://johnhawks.net/weblog/

But how does this explain PYGMIES & DWARFS? ;)

It should be noted that this seems to be one of the articles that Nature will let anyone download and read. They do this from time to time. I was able to download the PDF and look at the article.

But how does this explain PYGMIES & DWARFS?

The designer did not add enough yeast.

I’m going with “ID proponents have never denied common descent”. Anyone care to make a wager? :P

I’m going with “ID proponents have never denied common descent AND BESIDES, this fossil doesn’t support evolution because…

Was anyone else bothered by this language in the news article: “how human ancestors made the giant leap from one species to another”? It seems like even in reporting the evidence for evolution they manage to propagate some of the misconceptions.

Is there any finding that would be a thread to Intelligent Design? Isn’t that part of the problem?

“Latest fossil find”? Are you talking about the 500 million year old worn ****?

oh, OK. WORM **** rather than WORN ****. From what you said, I had the image of these feces being badly degraded, or used as clothing.

Sorry for the typo. Yes, it’s worm ****. PZ is running a thread over on Pharyngula.

“How many more of these gaps can the theory of evolution stand?” – Consider Zeno’s Paradox…

Reiner wrote:

But how does this explain PYGMIES & DWARFS?

The designer did not add enough yeast.

The designer didn’t use yeast, he shorted them on the baking soda. If you start allowing these natural explanations it is just one more step towards theistic evolution.;-)

Comment #96282

Posted by Renier on April 13, 2006 07:10 AM (e)

But how does this explain PYGMIES & DWARFS?

The designer did not add enough yeast.

rofl

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. In reference to those who feel that the fragmented nature of the fossil record is evidence of intelligent design; At this point in our understanding of evolution and the theory that humans and modern apes have a shared ancestor, is it really necessary to have an unbroken series of links to make the theory credible. In my opinion there exists a staggering amount of definitive fossil evidence that cannot be ignored.

Al Michael

Al Michael, Re “is it really necessary to have an unbroken series of links to make the theory credible.”

I’d think it’d be sufficient to have some sequences in a fair amount of detail, in order to infer that the others likely followed similar patterns but were less polite about leaving stuff for us to find.

Henry

At this point in our understanding of evolution and the theory that humans and modern apes have a shared ancestor, is it really necessary to have an unbroken series of links to make the theory credible. In my opinion there exists a staggering amount of definitive fossil evidence that cannot be ignored.

Not to mention all the molecular sequence data of the last few decades which agrees quite well with phylogentic trees based on anatomical and fossil comparisons.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 12, 2006 8:21 PM.

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