“Ardi,” or more precisely Ardipithecus ramidus, is a skeleton of an early human-like creature discovered in Ethiopia in 1992; however, it took until 2009 for scientists (anthropologists, not archaeologists) to assess its sigificance. Ardi lived about 4.4 million years ago, more than a million years earlier than “Lucy,” previously the oldest human ancestor found. The unique thing about Ardi is that she (the main skeleton found was a woman) was evidently a biped on the ground, but a quarduped while in trees. Scientists deduced this from the structure of the creature’s bones, specifically position of the pelvis bones, as well as a small bone that was found in the foot that enabled early humanoids to walk flat on the ground. That bone is missing from modern gorillas and chimps that are not bipedal. Furthermore, Ardi’s wrist bones were flexible in a way that is usually seen in creatures that swing through trees, like gorillas and chimps. The conclusion that Ardi was bipedal is not without controversy. Some scientists believe the evidence doesn’t go that far, while others aren’t sure.
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