Photo by: Sileshi Semaw
IU Bloomington paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw holds the fossil of a hominid mandible (lower jaw bone) believed to be about 4.5 million years old
Scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and seven other institutions have unearthed skeletal fossils of a human ancestor believed to have lived about 4.5 million years ago. The fossils, described in this week’s Nature (Jan. 20), will help scientists piece together the mysterious transformation of primitive chimp-like hominids into more human forms.
The fossils were retrieved from the Gona Study Area in northern Ethiopia, only one of two sites to yield fossil remains of Ardipithecus ramidus. "A few windows are now opening in Africa to glance into the fossil evidence on the earliest hominids," said IUB paleoanthropologist Sileshi Semaw, who led the research.
Semaw and colleagues also report new evidence that suggests the human ancestors lived in close quarters with a menagerie of antelope, rhinos, monkeys, giraffes and hippos in a northern Ethiopia that was far wetter than it is today. The environmental reconstructions suggest a mosaic of habitats, from woodlands to grasslands. Research is continuing at Gona to determine which habitats A. ramidus preferred.
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The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
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