Missing link

Heralded as the “Breakthrough discovery of 2009” by the journal Science, Ardipithecus ramidus, a completely new human ancestor, was unearthed in Ethiopia by a UC Berkeley co-led research team. At 4.4 million years old, “Ardi” is the oldest, most complete hominid skeleton ever found — 1.2 million years older than the famous fossilized specimen “Lucy.” Funded by the National Science Foundation, the discovery fundamentally altered scientific understanding of the earliest phase of human evolution not long after our ancestors split from chimpanzees some 6 million years ago.