It’s Ardipithecus day! No, not that one, but the other one, Ardipithecus ramidus, which paleoanthropologists have been studying for the past 15 years. Over 45% of the skeleton of this hominin was found in the early 1990’s, but outside of a brief initial description no further details about Ardipithecus ramidus had been published until today.
Later this afternoon Science will launch a webpage containing multiple print articles and online features chock-full of details about this early hominin. (Word has it that an entire University of California Press volume will be devoted to Ardipithecus ramidus, as well, just as one was given to its sister species Ardipithecus kadabbaone was given to its sister species Ardipithecus kadabba.) If you really can’t wait for the papers, though, (and, hell, even if you can) go check out Carl Zimmer’s excellent summary of some of the new research. I will add my own thoughts here after I have a chance to read and digest the research being released this afternoon.