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Thread: Humans and Chimps evolved from an ancestor with suspensory adaptations

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    Humans and Chimps evolved from an ancestor with suspensory adaptations


    "Ardipithecus hand provides evidence that humans and chimpanzees evolved from an ancestor with suspensory adaptations"


    The morphology and positional behavior of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees are critical for understanding the evolution of bipedalism. Early 20th century anatomical research supported the view that humans evolved from a suspensory ancestor bearing some resemblance to apes. However, the hand of the 4.4-million-year-old hominin Ardipithecus ramidus purportedly provides evidence that the hominin hand was derived from a more generalized form. Here, we use morphometric and phylogenetic comparative methods to show that Ardipithecus retains suspensory adapted hand morphologies shared with chimpanzees and bonobos. We identify an evolutionary shift in hand morphology between Ardipithecus and Australopithecus that renews questions about the coevolution of hominin manipulative capabilities and obligate bipedalism initially proposed by Darwin. Overall, our results suggest that early hominins evolved from an ancestor with a varied positional repertoire including suspension and vertical climbing, directly affecting the viable range of hypotheses for the origin of our lineage."

    So, the tree is more muddied than ever?

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    Thanks for this. I interpreted the paper as saying that the tree is actually less muddied now because their comparative study of hand morphology showed that early hominin hands were more similar to the hands of chimpanzees and bonobos than they were to the hands of any other primates.

    The paper presents evidence against earlier studies suggesting that early hominin hands were more monkey-like than ape-like, and that's compatible with DNA studies that show that chimpanzees and bonobos are the closest living relatives of homo sapiens.

    As an aside, I find it interesting that scientists in 2021 still use the term ape in a way that excludes hominins. Chimpanzees and bonobos are most closely related to each other, but they are closer cousins of humans than they are of gorillas. In turn, gorillas are closer cousins of humans than they are of orang utans. Orang utans are closer cousins of humans than they are of gibbons. How, then, can taxonomists exclude humans from the ape family? Human pride perhaps? We've accepted the idea that we descend from apes but we're reluctant to admit that we still are apes.

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