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To save the precious fragments, White and colleagues removed the fossils along with their surrounding rock.
Then, in a lab in Addis, the researchers carefully tweaked out the bones from the rocky matrix using a needle under a microscope, proceeding "millimeter by submillimeter," as the team puts it in Science. Pieces of the crushed skull were then CT-scanned and digitally fit back together by Gen Suwa, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tokyo.
Millions of years later, erosion brought the badly crushed and distorted bones back to the surface.
They were so fragile they would turn to dust at a touch.
All previously known hominids—members of our ancestral lineage—walked upright on two legs, like us.
But Ardi's feet, pelvis, legs, and hands suggest she was a biped on the ground but a quadruped when moving about in the trees.
The bone was lost in the lineages of chimps and gorillas.As a result Ardi would have walked on her palms as she moved about in the trees—more like some primitive fossil apes than like chimps and gorillas."What Ardi tells us is there was this vast intermediate stage in our evolution that nobody knew about," said Owen Lovejoy, an anatomist at Kent State University in Ohio, who analyzed Ardi's bones below the neck. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago.
Scientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor.
Announced at joint press conferences in Washington, D.