Discovery Shakes Up Evolution Theory

Study dates skeleton found in 1994 back 4.4 million years

By Cat Contiguglia
|  Thursday, Oct 1, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM PDT
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Discovery Shakes Up Evolution Theory

Scientists searching for the answer to human origins may have found it with Ardi, the oldest hominid skeleton ever discovered.

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A hominid skeleton found in 1994 and dating back 4.4 million years has cast doubt on long-held theories of evolution.

"Ardi," a 110-pound, 4-foot female found in Ethiopia is a million years older than Lucy, previously believed to be the earliest skeleton of a human ancestor.

A study of Ardi shows she was of a species that could walk upright and spent little time in the trees. This find provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved from some common ancestor that existed 6 to 7 million years ago, scientists say, but that each evolved and changed separately along the way.

“This is not that common ancestor, but it’s the closest we have ever been able to come,” Tim White, director of the Human Evolution Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Associated Press.

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