London: Ardi, the oldest member of the
human family tree found so far, has been named the "scientific
breakthrough of 2009".
According to prestigious `Science` journal, the
discovery of the seven stone, four-foot tall ape like creature
which roamed African forests some 4.4 million years ago just
as humans began walking on two legs is the most important
breakthrough of this year.
Her discovery, reported in October, sheds light on
a crucial period when we were just leaving the trees. Ardi`s
skeleton, found in Ethiopia, promises to fill in gaps about
how we became human and evolved from apes, British newspaper
`The Daily Telegraph` reported.
Rather than humans evolving from chimps, the find
provides evidence that chimps and humans evolved together from
another common more ancient ancestor. While she wasn`t exactly
this "missing link", she was described as its "cousin".
Naming Ardi -- short for Ardipithecus ramidus or "root
of the ground ape" -- as the Breakthrough of the Year, Science
journal, the magazine of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science, said it "changed the way we think
about early human evolution".
Ardi`s discovery topped a list of 10 major landmarks
that the magazine, which has more than a million readers,
deemed were the most important of the year.
They included the finding of water on the moon,
the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, developments in gene
therapy and the detection of pulsar gamma ray emissions from