Ardipithecus backlash begins

1 minute read

John Noble Wilford reports in the NY Times on today’s technical comments that challenge various aspects of the interpretation of Ardipithecus.

Thure Cerling and colleagues argue that Ardi’s paleoenvironment was not as wooded as White and colleagues (2009) had claimed.

Esteban Sarmiento argues that Ardipithecus wasn’t a hominin, in part because of its features, in part because the molecular clock places the human-chimpanzee divergence between 3 and 5 million years ago, too young for the genus to be on our lineage.

I’ll write more later on the Sarmiento comment and White and colleagues’ reply. For now, I thought I’d point to these initial skeptical takes on the Ardipithecus story.

Oh, with some pride I’ll point out that my readers were appraised of many of these issues the week of the announcement and thereafter. I discussed the molecular clock issue at some length (“Reviewing the clock, and phylogenomics”), and of course my Ardipithecus FAQ laid out most of the anatomy</a>. The pelvis got attention in my post “The Ardipithecus pelvis”, where I was the first to detail the shocking absence of Oreopithecus from the published analysis.

Does this mean that it has taken Science and the NY Times eight months to catch up to a blog? Well, they’re doing different things than I do here, so it’s not a fair comparison.