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A Babe in the Universe

Breakthrough of the Year, or Not

10 Jun 2010, 03:36 UTC
Breakthrough of the Year, or Not
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Ardipithecus Ramidus, the skeleton known as Ardi, was hailed by SCIENCE magazine in 2009 as "breakthrough of the year." Dated at 4.4 million years, the specimen was a million years older than the famous Lucy. Ardi was claimed to be an ancestor of humans, dating after humanity's divergence from African apes. The species was also claimed to have lived in dense woodlands rather than open plains, possibly linking Ardi with the transition to walking upright. These two discoveries appeared to make Ardi an important find. Today scientists are questioning major parts of this "breakthrough."Ardi was discovered in 1992 by a team led by Tim White of UC Berkeley. Reconstructing and studying the skeleton took 17 years before the results were published in SCIENCE. In the June 1 issue, another group takes the same evidence and disputes the conclusion that Ardi lived in the woods. Another critique, by Esteban Sarmiento, disagrees with the classification of Ardi as a hominid, a relative of humans. According to both dissenting views, the original team's major conclusions are premature.10 years ago an "accelerating" universe was hailed by SCIENCE magazine as "breakthrough of the year." Acceleration was interpreted as coming from a repulsive cosmological constant. When ...

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