Re: ramidus-hominid?hominoid?

Mon, 30 Oct 1995 11:42:57 -0500

In message <v01510101acb8df8c578d@[]> janis silva writes:
> Does anyone have the latest information concerning A.ramidus? Last
> November he/she was classified as a hominid. This summer there were some
> postings suggesting that ramidus is actually a hominoid.

I would like to know more about this too, if anyone has anything new to
contribute. Australopithecus ramidus, named August of 1994, was renamed by its
discovers in a corrigendum to Nature last February as Ardipithecus ramidus. No
justification was given except to refer to the original article, in which the
authors stated ambivalence about the generic assignation. No mention was made of
membership or lack of it among the hominids. What happened in the interval to
make them change their mind? I can speculate.

The original material included several humeral fragments, but nothing of the
lower limb that might indicate locomotor pattern (which is the most interesting
question as far as I am concerned). Last fall a partial skeleton was recovered
in such fragmentary condition that all pieces were jacketed in plaster for
reconstruction in the laboratory this past spring (as described in a January
issue of Science). While no details have been released, that skeleton included
parts that should indicate the presence or absence of bipedalism. If
Ardipithecus was not bipedal, it should not be considered Australopithecus and,
arguably, may not be hominid. It is likely that something about the newer
material recovered suggested to the original describers a greater difference
from Australopithecus, but we are left in the dark about what that is.

Can anyone add to this?