Lovejoy explains influence of Ardi discovery

Jessica White

The October unveiling of “Ardi,” the oldest fossilized human ancestor, is giving scientists a totally new view on human evolution.

Kent State anthropology professor Owen Lovejoy explained the importance of the discovery last night at the Kiva for the Celebration of Scholarship. Lovejoy was one of the scientists who reconstructed “Ardi.”

He said “Ardi” came as a shock because her skeleton is significantly different from that of “Lucy,” who was the most famous fossil human ancestor before “Ardi.”

Lovejoy said “Ardi” is amazing because while she has a high number of ape-like features, she is built to stand upright. But “Ardi” has chimpanzee-like feet, which Lovejoy said shows she lived in the trees, too.

Lovejoy said humans are, in fact, more primitive than “our cousin chimpanzees.” He said hominids similar to modern humans lived about 4.4 million years ago, while chimpanzees have evolved considerably since then.

Some students were surprised with the facts.

“I was surprised to hear that brain size had nothing to do with how they evolved,” said Julia Meek, a sophomore biology and pre-med major. “Instead, (brain development) came last.”

Malorie Watson, a sophomore biology and pre-dentistry major, was surprised, too. She said it’s interesting to see how “randomly” humans evolved.

“As a biology major, we learn about this in class,” she said. “It’s cool how everything just kind of happened.”

The Celebration of Scholarship is a yearly event at Kent State that highlights the latest research going on around campus. This year’s event began Tuesday, with an exhibition of student art in the School of Art Gallery and various presentations throughout the College of the Arts. It continues tomorrow with student poetry readings and a musical theater showcase, among other events. A full schedule of events is available at

Contact news correspondent Jessica White at [email protected].