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Primitive humans reported to be found which might show missing link.

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Some features seen in the new Ardipithecus kadabba teeth have only been seen in fossil and modern apes. They include the more pointed, triangular shape of the upper canine and wear surfaces on the canine and lower premolar.
Haile-Selassie, curator and head of Physical Anthropology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, said, "Ardipithecus kadabba may also represent the first species on the human branch of the family tree just after the evolutionary split between lines leading to modern chimpanzees and humans."

A New Branch Of Primitive Humans Reported Found In Ethiopia Cleveland - Mar 05, 2004 Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, member of a scientific team working in the Middle Awash valley of the Afar Region in Ethiopia, and his colleagues have found dental evidence that elevates the hominid subspecies Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba to its own species, Ardipithecus kadabba. This new species, dating between 5.54 and 5.77 million years old, is the oldest member of the genus Ardipithecus.

Between 1997 and 2000, Haile-Selassie recovered 11 hominid specimens from at least five individuals who lived in a wooded environment in Ethiopia between 5 and 6 million years ago. In a 2001 publication in the journal Nature, the bones and teeth were first placed in a new hominid subspecies named Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba.

In the 2002 field season, the scientific team recovered new fossil teeth of Ardipithecus kadabba at a place known as Asa Koma ("Red Hill") along the western margin of the Middle Awash study area, about 180 miles (290 km) northeast of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The team conducted excavations at Asa Koma for a month and discovered six additional teeth - including an upper canine, premolars from both upper and lower jaws and upper molars - belonging to different individuals.

Haile-Selassie said, "The teeth not only revealed dental evolution in the earliest hominids, but they also helped to differentiate the earlier and later species of the genus Ardipithecus."

Haile-Selassie explained, "The upper canine and the lower third premolar are particularly significant in understanding how the dentition evolved from an ape-like common ancestor into the earliest hominids." Professor White added, "This is just what we needed, an unworn upper canine to compare with both earlier and later fossils from Africa."

Dr. Bruce Latimer, executive director of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, hails this discovery as "a cornerstone in our attempt to reconstruct the first hominids after the split from the common ancestor with chimpanzees."

Other features are clearly hominid-like such as the presence of a well-defined anterior fovea on the lower third premolar and lower canine variants with high mesial crown shoulders, distal tubercles and apical wear.

In addition, the shape and orientation of the canines and lower premolars in living and fossil apes produce a complex that has a honing function. Honing is a mechanism that sharpens the rear edge of the upper canine across the outer face of the lower premolar as the teeth come together during the chewing process.

Haile-Selassie said, "The primitive shape and wear features of the newly discovered teeth from Asa Koma indicate that the last common ancestor of apes and humans had a functional honing complex like that seen in modern apes."

He also pointed out, "More fossils will be needed to understand whether some Ardipithecus kadabba individuals functionally honed or just retained primitive traits based on the interlocking of the projecting canine teeth inherited from the last common ancestor."

On the phylogenetic relationship of Ardipithecus kadabba with the two other known genera of late Miocene hominids, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus, Haile-Selassie and his colleagues state that the three are similar to such an extent that they might belong to a single genus. However, they also suggest that more fossils from late Miocene deposits are needed to confirm this inference.

Climate Change Killed Neandertals, Study Says National Geographic - February 2004.

BBC - January 2004 The Neanderthals were not close relatives of modern humans and represent a single species quite distinct from our own, scientists say.

Big chill killed off the Neanderthals New Scientist - January 2004

A New Branch Of Primitive Humans Reported Found In Ethiopia Space Daily - March 2004

Original source www.crystalinks.com   Dinosaurs   Paleontology  

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