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And Ardi was (maybe) Monogamous!

posted by Scot McKnight

Ardi.jpg

Did you see the new report about the piece in Science? Anyone read the article and have anything to add or say?

Scientists in Ethiopia have found a 4.4 million year old human predecessor that promises to upend long-held notions of what the common ancestor of African apes and humans looked like, how it lived, and how much both lineages have evolved since diverging.

The species, called Ardipithecus ramidus, is one million years older than “Lucy,” the famous partial female skeleton of a hominid that lived 3.2 million years ago and was previously the closest scientists had come to finding the common ancestor of apes and humans. Modern genetic analysis suggests that the lineages of chimpanzees and Homo sapiens diverged more than 6 million years ago.



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John M.

posted October 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm


She’s really old! :)
Here goes more revision of the current theories… we see through a smokey glass… someday we will see face-to-face…



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Jjoe

posted October 3, 2009 at 9:17 pm


If your children are taught not to believe in evolution, what do you tell them when discoveries like this are announced?



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Frank Emanuel

posted October 3, 2009 at 10:16 pm


With forearms like that maybe they found the ancestor of Popeye! :-)
I wonder what Tielhard would have thought? He did a lot of work on Lucy.



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RJS

posted October 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm


This is not just “an article” in Science – this is a special issue with a whole series of articles and commentary. I haven’t had a chance to read through it yet, but while scientifically interesting – this discovery doesn’t really change the general scheme, it just fleshes it out.
The idea that similar body sizes for male and female imply monogamy is interesting.



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DAK

posted October 3, 2009 at 10:48 pm


Jjoe, you tell them carbon dating can’t be trusted, the fossil record was of course convoluted by the flood, any attempt to reconstruct a complete skeleton from a cache of remains is suspect, the bones must be from some extinct form of chimp or ape, maybe that the whole thing is artfully falsified, that archeologists are atheists motivated by a desire to disprove faith, or you simply try to keep them from even hearing about the finds. At least that’s what I was told. :-(



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Matt S.

posted October 3, 2009 at 11:13 pm


DAK #5 – that’s hitting the nail on the head – I totally relate to your last sentence and am grateful that finally, due in part to Scot and RJS, that’s not what my own children are hearing – so, turning :-( to :-)



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Clint

posted October 4, 2009 at 2:24 am


seriously?



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Echoes

posted October 4, 2009 at 3:50 am


Things like this seem to always upset people from all walks of life. I find the in my opinion it truly doesn?t matter how we got here, My heart, mind body and soul knows that God almighty in his infinite wisdom created us. It was his choice and design as to how we were made in his image and it doesn?t matter if it was his by his choice to big bang the earth or to melt species together to form what it was he wanted as a final result. The point is that it was by his grace that we are here regardless of the specific details. Does it really matter how, since we know by whom we were made. If your faith in him is as it should be then no one need to worry or concern themselves further. Simply stand firm on the fact that God is in control then and now and forevermore will be. Regardless of our simple minded understanding of what he has or has not done. The desire to know who , what , where , when and how are questions we ask in the flesh when we are suppose to be walking in spirit and faith. God will reveal all in his time not ours.



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BenB

posted October 4, 2009 at 5:46 am


DAK #5 –
BINGO! That’s exactly what you did. I posted this article on my facebook the other day and someone said, “are you that gullible? Every 10-15 years something like this shows up and it’s always bulls***. Lucy was a hoax, all the other ones were, and it’s been proven. Don’t waste your time with this.”
I thought to myself…. WHAT!?



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BenB

posted October 4, 2009 at 5:48 am


That should have been
“BINGO! That’s exactly what THEY DO.”
My mistake. 3am. Bed….



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Bob Smallman

posted October 4, 2009 at 7:53 am


I tell our young people that science, by its very nature, is a sloppy business, and that the status quo is — if scientists are doing their work — constantly being challenged by new ideas and discoveries. That’s what makes science so exciting.
I am currently re-reading Walter Isaacson’s fine biography of Einstein and have been reminded again of how often he developed a grand idea only to discard it later when he couldn’t fit it into the world of reality that he knew. (And yet, as he himself grew older, it became difficult even for him to discard ideas that he had grown attached to. The younger Einstein was far more productive than the older one!)
So we shouldn’t be threatened by the discovery of new things nor by the discarding of some of the old. They are both part of good science.



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RJS

posted October 4, 2009 at 8:28 am


Dead on Bob – it is a process of discovery.
We could probably do with a little more humility and a little less hype though. But publicity enhances reputation – and reputation, along with good ideas, opens channels to money. Science goes nowhere fast without money to pay people and to buy equipment.



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ParPlen

posted October 4, 2009 at 10:15 am


Answers in Genesis comments on this discovery.



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Scott

posted October 4, 2009 at 10:46 am


Basically these are a con and should be prosecuted right? I dont ever see anyone being taken to court over these things… but it seems these things are brought up and then low key they are called a Hoax but nothing further is done…right?? If we did that to the court system or government its called something else isnt it…???
It seems like its “…Darn not everyone bought that lets move on to something else…” kind of attitude… the press rarely publicizes the debunking of these myths…. we need a Spiritual mythbusters…or theory busters…. That would be a show/blog/website..etc I would check out….



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RJS

posted October 4, 2009 at 11:11 am


This is neither a con nor a hoax. There is nothing to be investigated or prosecuted. There is no myth to be busted, although there is, as Bob points out, a continuing refinement of ideas.
Answers in Genesis has no answers that will stand the test of time.
This discovery is significant, but it actually adds no new wrinkle to the science and faith discussion. What “Ardi” appears to demonstrate is something that many have likely suspected for years: humans don’t descend from apes or chimpanzees, rather humans and chimpanzees both descend from a common ancestor not entirely like either.
Some of what is written about this is speculation … as is always the case. But it is anchored in sound method.



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Jjoe

posted October 4, 2009 at 12:32 pm


On iMonk, the top post is about a Japanese exchange student who came to the US an atheist, attended a Christian school and learned a lot about Christianity, and went back to Japan an atheist. Why? Because she was told she couldn’t believe in evolution and be a Christian. Great job at fulfilling the Great Commission, that.
http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/niki-made-her-choice-and-apparently-so-did-we



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Anan E. Maus

posted October 4, 2009 at 2:31 pm


I don’t think there is a fundamental conflict between science and religion. Science is trying to learn the rules of the outer world. Science is trying to discover the “recipe” by which God created the various aspects of the world and its functioning.
But it is God who set these things in motion and God who sustains them. All these things are merely colors on the palette with which God paints the universe. They are his paints, his colors…and if He chooses, He can change the physical laws of the universe, at His sweet will.
Science is just focusing on the superficial, the worldly, and not really looking for anything of depth.
That being said, there are even scientific studies which prove the effectiveness of prayer and some of the greatest scientific minds that ever lived (like Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton), believed in God.
Science changes its theories every generation. What was scientific fact last generation, is overthrown in the next.
The only thing which endures is God.



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SuzanneWA

posted October 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm


As far as the discussion between evolution and creationism, I have one answer – the Big Bang Theory. Who “created” the Big Bang?? God, right?? It’s like which came first, the chicken or the egg – unanswerable…I think the archaeologists’ search for the connection, or separation of chimps from Homo Sapiens, is just trying to figure out the Glory of God. I’m sure not ALL scientists in geneaology are atheists. They are just looking for answers, like most of us who are “seekers” in spirituality. In the end, my faith in God remains, whether or not Ardi is the “missing link” or not.



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Bob Smallman

posted October 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm


Just an edit to my #11 comment above. I should have said, “Science is a MESSY business…” not a “sloppy” one. Good science isn’t sloppy.



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RJS

posted October 4, 2009 at 10:46 pm


Jjoe (#16)
The content of the iMonk post and the post he links at the start of it give a good indication of why I am more or less relentless on this issue.
We need to think about the theological and biblical implications – but a dismissive attitude to the science is destructive.



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Constant Gina

posted October 5, 2009 at 9:00 am


Ignoring, for a moment, the inevitable obfuscatory asshattery of the creonuts, that’s one beautiful, beautiful fossil, and a beautiful piece of work on the part of the researchers.
Slow-cooked science for the win.



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pds

posted October 5, 2009 at 10:34 am


Some perspective on the significance of the Ardi fossil here:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/10/key_bones_of_new_hominid_fossi.html
And here:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/10/artificially_reconstructed_ard.html
RJS, what do you think of what Luskin said this time?



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pds

posted October 5, 2009 at 10:40 am


Peeling Dragon Skin
My thoughts on finds like this are to a great extent on scientific epistemology and whether the certainty we can have is accurately communicated to the public. How certain can we be about any of the statements made by the scientists? How accurate was our previous “knowledge”? Are they communicating this effectively? Why or why not?



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RJS

posted October 5, 2009 at 10:47 am


pds,
I won’t touch that with a 10 foot pole. I’ve learned by hard experience that it is not productive to comment on anything from DI with an open mind giving pros and cons – only pros will be accepted.



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pds

posted October 5, 2009 at 11:08 am


RJS #24,
Well, that is a completely false description of my comments in the past, if that is what you were intending. I have never said anything close to that.
I see that DAK #5 seems to be dismissing ALL skepticism since SOME of the skepticism is misguided. And the crowd is loving it.
I propose a THIRD WAY in which we acknowledge what we know and have a healthy skepticism about what we don’t know. I see you are least a little sympathetic to this in #12.



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RJS

posted October 5, 2009 at 11:20 am


I’ll take the bait – (forgive me)
pds,
Some of the people associated with DI are reasonable and put forward arguments that are worth discussing. Logan Gage’s post on this site awhile ago are example of such.
These two articles by Luskin, like everything else I’ve seen of his (note the qualifier – I admit I have not seen everything) do not deal with the facts in honesty. They do not actually try to develop a reasonable discussion and make a point.
They are designed to use ridicule and absurdity to put down a view and to give his readers comfort in the fact that the science does not actually have to be taken seriously or the data reckoned with.
The problem with this is not really your average man on the street or pastor in the pulpit – it is with the student who studies science, becomes aware of the depth of the evidence and the coherence of the evidence and then decides that the choice is between faith and (all these other things they’ve come to understand). See Jjoe’s comment #16 above linking imonk’s article and the link that imonk provides at the top of his post.



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pds

posted October 5, 2009 at 11:48 am


RJS #26
His post is largely about the media circus, and he is providing another perspective.
You said,
“They [Luskin's blog posts] are designed to use ridicule and absurdity to put down a view and to give his readers comfort in the fact that the science does not actually have to be taken seriously or the data reckoned with.”
He said,
There are three easy tips to remember as a student with an anti-ID professor:
# Tip #1: Never opt out of learning evolution. In fact, learn about evolution every chance you get
# Tip #2: Think for yourself, think critically, and question assumptions.
# Tip #3: Proactively learn about credible scientific viewpoints that dissent from Darwinism on your own time, even if your classes censor those non-evolutionary viewpoints.
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/09/introducing_the_college_studen.html
I can’t quite grasp why so many TE people want to inaccurately paint ID proponents as extremists. It reminds me of the treatment given to emerging church people by some conservatives.



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RJS

posted October 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm


pds,
When he calls it artificially reconstructed squished Irish stew – there is a message that causes problems.
But here is the real point – this particular specimen makes no difference to the overall story of evolution. It is an interesting data point – no more. It does not revolutionize any major theories – it provides tweaks to the scheme. It is also another excellent example of painstaking research guided by a large number of contributing factors. It falls on the time line between the prior oldest specimen and the projected time for the split between chimpanzees and humans.
100 years from now our great grandchildren will look with as much bemusement at the controversy over evolution as we look at the attempt to deny that the earth revolves around the sun.
I think that we need to wrestle with the theology and philosophy – not try to undermine the science.
Age to age the gospel holds true, the framework in which we interpret it changes as we grow in wisdom and stature. To a certain extent this holds for the church as a whole as it holds for individuals. Don’t push the analogy too far, as I don’t think that we have an ever improving society where human effort can bring the “kingdom of God.” But it is undeniable that are science is much more accurate and “works much better” then anything that has come before – we all stand on the shoulders of our forefathers (and mothers).



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pds

posted October 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm


RJS #28,
A couple of points and I am ready to drop it.
1. The “Irish stew” comment was a quote from another scientist. It was in fact a mess. “Smashed to smithereens” was used as well to describe it. I think that is quite relevant.
2. I love science. You love science. I think much in evolutionary science is actually pseudo-science. But that is a discussion for another day.



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Mike M

posted October 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm


The size/sexual partners thing is pretty basic biology: among placental mammals, the ratio of average body size between males and females is an indication of the number of sexual partners. For example, male walruses are absolutely huge compared to females and have harems (is that plural correct) whereas hyenas are more evenly sized and tend to have the same number of partners. This doesn’t imply monogamy: it only indicates that the number of partners is close to equal. Could be one; could be many. Human males are slightly bigger than females and so tend to “slightly polygamous” like dolphins.



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