Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ardipithecus Meets Modern Technology

The question of whether or how well Ardipithecus could walk has been hot since the discovery and description of the find were announced last year. Now a company that specializes in three-dimensional biomechanical reconstructions has taken an interest. According to the story in Send2Press:
LifeModeler, Inc. has reason to pay close attention. The company's LifeMOD™ biomechanical simulation software helped researchers understand how the 4.4 million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus female walked and moved.

LifeModeler's founder, Shawn McGuan, worked with anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy of Kent State University to create 3D models of the bones and muscles of this specimen first discovered in 1992.

Not only were they seeking information as to how her bones and muscles fit together, they also wanted to visualize the range of motion she was capable of, based on her anatomy. A detailed model of Ardi's foot provided particular insight for Lovejoy and the extensive team working on the project which was first disclosed last week in the journal Science.

The LifeMOD software determined that Ardi was the first fossil hominid to have had an opposable big toe, meaning she was able to live in the tree canopy and walk nearly upright on the ground. Research shows that a small bone inside a tendon maintained rigidity in her big toe.
Not exactly a nail in the coffin, but this will go a long way to establishing Ardipithecus as a real hominid. Much of the debate focused on the reconstruction of the pelvis and the foot anatomy was, for the most part, uncontroversial. More to come, I am sure.

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1 comment:

  1. Any religion can make use of modern technology to spread good news to their followers.