Moments in paleoanthropology.Paleoanthropologist who discovered a 4.4 million-year-old fossil of our human ancestor
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The Beginnings of Us
When, where, and how did humanity start? And how did we end up where we are today? We’ve been searching for these answers for years. Across cultures, myths of the birth for humanity exist. However, paleoanthropologist Tim White says only the evidence that human fossils provide can bring light to the past as it was.
For the last two centuries, paleoanthropology has uncovered numerous truths about the past, such as the first human appearance some 7 million years ago on the 4.5 billion-year-old Earth. We have also learned that after continuous evolution and extinction events of many human species, only one species, Homo sapiens, survived.
What did human ancestors and relatives look like? How did the last human species, Homo sapiens, survive while others did not? Tim White’s discovery was a breakthrough. In the desert of Ethiopia, he found “Ardi,” or Ardipithecus ramidus, the fossil of a human ancestor some 4.4 million years ago. This is our chance to hear the fascinating story of the discovery of this human with canine teeth, a humanlike brain, and the ability to walk upright.
Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley Director of the Human Evolution Research Center (HERC) Co-director of the Middle Awash Project in Ethiopia Author of The Human Bone Manual
Tim White is an American paleoanthropologist, professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Human Evolution Research Center. He has been traveling to excavation sites around the world for the last half century searching for clues to our past. Since 1981, he has been the co-director of the Middle Awash Project, an international research expedition in the Afar region of Ethiopia. While leading the project with hundreds of researchers, he discovered a new fossil, Ardi, short for Ardipithecus ramidus. The fossil of “Ardi” is from 4.4 million years ago, one million years older than Lucy, the oldest one known up to that point. The uncovering of Ardi was Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year 2009.
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