Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gebo, Daniel Lee, 1955-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Anthropology


Ardipithecus; Fossil hominids; Physical anthropology


Ardipithecus ramidus is a controversial fossil in terms of its phyletic position relative to the hominid lineage. Lovejoy and White argue that Ar. ramidus is a stem hominid while others, like Wood, Harrison and Sarmiento do not agree and propose alternative interpretations. These later authors argue that the proposed "human-like" characteristics used by Lovejoy and White to support their stem hominid hypothesis can also be attributed to other lineages, like fossil apes, and they further believe that Ar. ramidus might not even be a hominid at all. Given these alternative interpretations concerning Ardipithecus, the first metatarsal of Ar. ramidus was examined relative to early fossil humans such as O.H. 8 (Homo habilis), A.L. 333-54 (Australopithcus afarensis), A.L. 333-115 (A afarensis), the great apes, gibbons, and finally to modern humans to help inform the debate on the inferred locomotive strategies and phyletic placement of Ar. ramidus . A comparative anatomical approach was utilized to assess the morphological ratios of these taxa relative to each other. The eleven measurements of the first metatarsal included aspects of the shaft, the distal articular surface, and the proximal articular surface. The results show that Ar. ramidus has more features in common with non-human primates than to modern humans and does not exhibit any of the unique first metatarsal characteristics linked to modern humans and bipedality. Ar. ramidus shows a mosaic of first metatarsal characteristics in comparison to the ape species examined here. Human-like bipedality was unlikely to have been the main form of locomotion of Ar. ramidus and this study suggests that Ar. ramidus is not the best representation for the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and modern humans.


Advisors: Daniel Gebo.||Committee members: Leila Porter; Karen Samonds.


59 pages




Northern Illinois University

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