Monday, October 5, 2009

Profile: Ardi: Our 4.4 million-year-old granny

PICTURE the scene. It's the African savanna of Ethiopia, 4.4 million years ago. Tuesday, to be exact, somewhere around tea-time. There is a rustle among the long grass and in the distance an elephant trumpets its annoyance, scattering parrots from the trees and sending shrews and mice scuttling deeper into the undergrowth.

A small, hairy head turns, cocks her ear and waits till any danger has passed. Ardi, as she will come to be known, is four feet tall, weighs 120 lbs and has a thin body covered in matted hair. She has very short legs and exceedingly long arms, but short palms and fingers which are flexible enough to allow them to support her entire body weight on her palms.

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