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No Longer Missing Links

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1. Ardipithecus ramidus dates back about ______ years.
Ardipithecus ramidus dates back some 4.4 million years ago.
2. A big difference between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus was: (compare the diagrams of Australopithecus skulls, jaws, teeth, pelvises and feet)
Skeleton majorDifferences | Ardipithecus | Australopithecus | Skulls | Ardipithecus skull rests atop the spinal column, indicating this species was bipedal, although it probably walked in a slightly different manner than humans. | -The dark area at the bottom of the skull is the foramen magnum, the hole through which the spinal column passes. It has a forward position in australopithecine skulls | Jaws | -Ardipithecus has rectangular shape of ape jaws. | -Their jaw has the parabolic shape of human jaws. | Teeth | They have large canine teeth. | -The teeth of australopithecines are similar to those of humans.-They do not have the large canine teeth of apes | Pelvises | -Their pelvis has a mix of features useful for both climbing and upright walking and suggests the species still spent significant time in the trees.-The lower pelvis is large and the angle of the ischial surface does not face upward as it does in humans and Australopithecus. | -Australopithecine pelvises are far more similar to humans than to those of apes, and shows that they were undoubtedly bipedal.- Despite the overall similarity, australopithecine pelvises are not identical to those of humans | Feet | The foot bones in this skeleton indicate a divergent large toe combined with a rigid foot. | They had a big toe that was more closely aligned with the other digits on the foot, an adaptation that provides support during upright walking. |

Ape to Man: Chapters 4-7
3. The first Australopithecus fossil was found in 1924 in what country?
The first Australopithecus fossil was found in 1924 in Taung in the North of South Africa.
4. List two reasons why Raymond Dart's claims about Australopithecus were rejected:
a. In a paper published in the journal Nature (Dart 1925), he argued that Australopithecus africanus represented a missing link between apes and humans. After reviewing evidence gathered by Dart, scientists were initially reluctant to accept that the Taung Child and the new genus Australopithecus were ancestral to modern humans. In the issue of Nature immediately following the one in which Dart's paper was published, several authorities in British paleoanthropology criticized Dart's conclusion. Dart's former mentor Arthur Keith, one of the most prominent anatomists of his time, claimed there was insufficient evidence to accept Dart's claim that Australopithecus was transitional between apes and humans. Grafton Elliot Smith stated that he needed more evidence – and a larger picture of the skull – before he could judge the significance of the new fossil. Arthur Smith Woodward dismissed the Taung Child as having "little bearing" on the issue of "whether the direct ancestors of man are to be sought in Asia or Africa. b. Secondly, he was the wrong man (he was Australian) and was not part of the scientific establishment in England, he was at the wrong place (Southern Africa) everyone was expecting such discovery from any other place, either Asia or Europe and finally, it was the wrong thing, Dart called it an ape and everybody called it an ape too, so his discovery did not fit in the context which was (finding the missing link).
5. How did the Taung Child die?
The Taung Child is thought have been attacked and killed by an eagle. Scientists suspect an eagle killed the Taung Child because puncture marks were found at the bottom of the Taung Child’s eye sockets. These marks resemble those made by a modern eagle’s sharp claws and beak when they attack monkeys in Africa today.

Meet "Selam", a young australopithecine
6. Where was "Selam" found?
Selam is the fossilized skull and other skeletal remains of a three-year-old Australopithecus afarensis female hominin, whose bones were first found in Dikika, Ethiopia in 2000.
7. How do scientists know that "Selam" was 3 years old and a female?
To determine the sex and age of primates scientists use a term called sexual dimorphism which basically means men are larger and female in terms of body size and teeth, but to exactly find that, scientists use permanent dentition (which shows the baby teeth and the adult teeth), so in case of Selam, with the help of technology scientists found out that she was a girl and had small teeth and the estimated answer was she had 3 years old when she died.

8. What did the hyoid bone reveal about the language ability of "Selam"?
The primary function of the hyoid bone is to serve as an anchoring structure for the tongue. The bone is situated at the root of the tongue in the front of the neck and between the lower jaw and the largest cartilage of the larynx, or voice box. After analysis of the hyoid bone which was not previously found in any other fossils, it revealed that it was a chimp/ape like, and her voice was more like a chimpanzee than a human.

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