"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
What Are Missing Links?
In 1965 a research team from Harvard University discovered a single arm bone of an early human at the site of Kanapoi in northern Kenya. The researchers estimated this bone to be 4 million years old, but could not identify the species to which it belonged or return at the time to look for related fossils. It was not until 1994 that a research team, led by British-born Kenyan paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey, found numerous teeth and fragments of bone at the site that could be linked to the previously discovered fossil. Leakey and her colleagues determined that the fossils were those of a very primitive species of australopith, which was given the name Australopithecus anamensis. Researchers have since found other A. anamensis fossils at nearby sites, dating between about 4.2 million and 3.9 million years old. The skull of this species appears apelike, while its enlarged tibia (lower leg bone) indicates that it supported its full body weight on one leg at a time, as in regular bipedal walking. This new fossil is called Australopithecus anamensis. But Australopithecus anamensis falls between ramidus, which is the oldest, and Australopithecines afarensis, which you know as Lucy
Australopithecus anamensis was quite similar to another, much better-known species, A. afarensis, a gracile australopith that thrived in eastern Africa between about 3.9 million and 3 million years ago which is known as Lucy. Lucy is the latest find that has been almost universally accepted as mankind's ancestor. Lucy is an Australopithecus, which is actually more like a monkey than man. When the bones were studied by spectrograph, they were found to match a chimpanzee, rather than a man. Lucy too, is a mosaic, with bones assembled from different locations.
The most celebrated fossil of this species, known as Lucy, is a partial skeleton of a female discovered by American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson in 1974 at Ethiopia. Lucy lived 3.2 million years ago. Scientists have identified several hundred fossils of A. afarensis from Hadar, including a collection representing at least 13 individuals of both sexes and various ages, all from a single site.
There have been many links that have been thrown out over time. Out of all the fossils and other artifacts that have been found we all know that there has to be some that
Then was Piltdown Man in 1912. He had an ape-like jaw and a human-like skull. He was estimated at half a million years old. The consensus of the world's greatest authorities at the time was that Piltdown Man was indeed an authentic link in the evolution of man. It wasn't until almost 40 years later in 1950 that fluoride tests revealed the skull was only a few thousand years old, not 500,000. The jaw itself was only 40 years old. It turns out that Piltdown Man was not a mistake, he was a fraud. The skull was a human skull, a combination of a human and ape jaw, eight teeth were filled, and the bone was treated with iron salts to give the appearance of age. What's incredible about that is that this was exposed as a fraud at the time and all of the scientific community acknowledged it as such and they were somewhat embarrassed.
For more than 50 years we were led to believe that this ancient creature was another supposed ancestor of modern man. Two scientists eventually took a closer look and found out that Piltdown man was a fraud. This invented creature was a composite of the jawbone of an orangutan and the skull of a small child. The original "discoverers" had stained these bone fragments to gain recognition and promote the falsehood of evolution.
The first significant discovery was that of the "Taung child" in 1925. Found in South Africa, the skull belonged to a child who was at a stage of development of a present-day six year old. (Early hominids, such as the Australopithecines, grew at a faster rate than modern humans.) This fossilized skull was the first Australopithecus specimen. With a brain larger than a chimp's but smaller than a human's, it was a true missing link.
Raymond Dart, the discoverer of the Taung child, realized its significance. But because the skulls of young humans and young apes are so similar, and
View Full Essay
Transitional fossils, Australopithecus, Anthropology, Hominini, Taung Child, Lucy, Taung, Human evolution, Piltdown Man, Ardipithecus, Hominidae, Donald Johanson
More Free Essays Like This