Thursday, October 08, 2009

Owen Lovejoy on Ardipithecus ramidus

Owen Lovejoy, one of the leading scholars on all things australopithecine and one of the principle describers of the new Ardipithecus finds, describes the importance of the find in terms of our understanding of human/ape relationships. In, he says:
"People often think we evolved from apes, but no, apes in many ways evolved from us," Lovejoy said. "It has been a popular idea to think humans are modified chimpanzees. From studying Ardipithecus ramidus, or 'Ardi,' we learn that we cannot understand or model human evolution from chimps and gorillas."
Lovejoy (and others) are arguing that the human/ape split came about long before the modern great apes arose and, thus, we share no behavioral or morphological traits in common. If the split between apes and humans was between eight and nine million years ago, that would mean eight million years of evolution for apes to become what they are today. That's a lot of time.

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