Mooning hominins

1 minute read

Gretchen sends this link: MSNBC has a list of “Eight Great American Discoveries in Science”.

We both agree that the list isn’t really “science” so much as “technology and science” – otherwise, why would “U.S. collaboration leads to the Internet” be on the list?

But along with Ben Franklin and Thomas Hunt Morgan, and right after the moon landing we have ….


Ardi joins Lucy in the annals of American science
American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson's 1974 discovery of Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old hominid named Australopithecus afarensis that walked upright, is often considered one of the greatest scientific discoveries in the field of human origins. The discovery of a 4.4 million-year-old hominid known as Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus and described in a series of paper in 2009, may be an even bigger scientific breakthrough, according to Rothenberg.
Ardi lived in woodlands and climbed on all fours in the trees, but was also capable walking on two feet suggesting that this hallmark of human evolution occurred in the forest, not grasslands as previously believed. The discovery team, headed by Tim White of the University of California of Berkeley, said Ardi may be ancestral to Lucy. Such findings have brought scientists closer to identifying the common ancestors of chimpanzees and humans.

Well, I’m glad that paleoanthropology made the list at all. But Johanson and White would be the first to remind MSNBC that these aren’t just “American” discoveries – both the discoveries and the science to understand them has been done by international teams working in Ethiopia.