Research Article

Careful Climbing in the Miocene: The Forelimbs of Ardipithecus ramidus and Humans Are Primitive

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 70-70e8
DOI: 10.1126/science.1175827

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Abstract

The Ardipithecus ramidus hand and wrist exhibit none of the derived mechanisms that restrict motion in extant great apes and are reminiscent of those of Miocene apes, such as Proconsul. The capitate head is more palmar than in all other known hominoids, permitting extreme midcarpal dorsiflexion. Ar. ramidus and all later hominids lack the carpometacarpal articular and ligamentous specializations of extant apes. Manual proportions are unlike those of any extant ape. Metacarpals 2 through 5 are relatively short, lacking any morphological traits associable with knuckle-walking. Humeral and ulnar characters are primitive and like those of later hominids. The Ar. ramidus forelimb complex implies palmigrady during bridging and careful climbing and exhibits none of the adaptations to vertical climbing, forelimb suspension, and knuckle-walking that are seen in extant African apes.

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