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Son of Texas Plane Crash Victim Vernon Hunter: Calls Attack an Act of Terror

Posted by: Audiegrl

Feb. 22: Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

Ken Hunter, son of the sole IRS worker killed when Joseph Stack flew his plane into the building where he worked.

CNN/Associated Press~ The son of the IRS worker who was the sole person to be killed last week when a tax protester piloted his plane into a Texas office building says his father was an innocent bystander who died at the hands of a terrorist.

And Ken Hunter, whose father, Vernon, was killed in Thursday’s plane attack said it was “disgusting” that the pilot’s daughter had called her father a hero — a statement she later retracted.

Joe Stack, 53, set fire to his family home before plowing his single-engine plane into the office building, killing himself and Hunter, a tax service employee and two-tour veteran of the War in Vietnam.

How is it heroic to take upon acts that Al Qaeda used on September 11 of 2001? What makes that heroic?” Hunter said in an interview Monday.

He spoke after Stack’s adult daughter, Samantha Bell, told ABC News that her father’s beliefs were heroic, and “Now maybe people will listen.”

Stack targeted the building, where nearly 200 IRS workers were employed, after posting a ranting manifesto against the agency and the government.

He did not write the tax law,” Hunter said of his father. “No one in that building wrote the tax law.”

Vernon Hunter

Vernon Hunter ~ RIP

Are you telling me that an American citizen committing an attack of terrorism against the United States is heroic?” he continued.

Bell said she offered her deepest condolences to Hunter’s family, and she said her father’s last actions were “inappropriate.”

But if nobody comes out and speaks up on behalf of injustice, then nothing will ever be accomplished,” she said in the interview. “But I do not agree with his last action with what he did. But I do agree about the government.”

Bell later retracted her statement that her father was a hero, telling ABC that the only hero who died that day was her father’s victim. “I don’t want to hurt anybody,” she told ABC. “We are mourning for Vernon Hunter.”

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President Obama Sends Condolences To Austin

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Last week, tragedy befell public servants in Austin, Texas. Earlier today, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner met with IRS employees in Austin to express his sympathies and support, and he read this note from the President:

“To the men and women of the Internal Revenue Service at Austin:

I asked Secretary Geithner to carry this message to you.

It is with great sadness that I write to you on the tragic events of February 18th. You, your families and colleagues are in my thoughts and prayers.

Michelle and I extend our condolences to you on the death of your colleague, Mr. Vernon Hunter. Vernon dedicated his life to service to this great country, serving over 20 years in the military before joining the IRS. We mourn his death.

As we work with law-enforcement agencies to investigate the events leading up to this plane crash, I want the dedicated employees of the IRS to know that I am thankful for your dedication, courage and professionalism as we rebuild in Austin. And as you continue your work, we will do what is needed to ensure your safety.

We are grateful for your service to this country.

May God bless you and the United States of America.

President Barack Obama”

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First Lady Michelle Obama Travels to Philadelphia: Making Healthy Food Accessible & Affordable

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the "Let's Move" health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks on the Let's Move health initiative at Fairhill Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 19, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)


With Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in tow, First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Philadelphia yesterday as part of the Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide effort to rally the country around one goal, ending the epidemic of childhood obesity.

During her remarks at Fairhill Elementary School, Mrs. Obama applauded the city of Philadelphia for their “stand” to end childhood obesity:

Six years ago, when this city had fewer supermarkets per person than almost anywhere in America, all right, that was six years ago, when many folks had no access to healthy foods; six years ago many neighborhoods had alarming rates of obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes — the folks in this city, you all could have decided that you had an unsolvable problems on your hands, right? You could have done that. You could have decided that these problems were just too big and too complicated and too entrenched and thrown your hands up and walked away.

But instead you all took a stand, a really important, collaborative stand. You decided first that no family in this city should be spending a fortune on high-priced, low-quality foods because they have no other options. You decided that no child should be consigned to a life of poor health because of what neighborhood his or her family lives in. And you decided that you weren’t going to just talk about the problem or wring your hands about the problems, but you were going to act.

And that’s precisely the kind of determination, the kind of commitment that we need to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. And this issue is an issue of great concern to me, and I’ve said this before, not because I’m First Lady — or not just because I’m First Lady of this country — but because I’m a mother, and I care about my kids and I care about all of our kids. And I know that this issue is a great concern to all of you, everyone around this country. We all care about our kids. That’s why last week we enthusiastically and proudly launched “Let’s Move.” (Applause.) “Let’s Move” is a nationwide campaign to rally this country around one single but ambitious goal, and that is to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation so that the kids born today grow up with a healthy weight. Simple but ambitious.

Mrs. Obama also announced a new part of Let’s Move! — the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a multi-million dollar public and private investment to eliminate food deserts in America within seven years:


“So with your success here in Pennsylvania, what you’ve shown us is that when we provide the right support and incentives, then business leaders like Pat Burns and Jeff Brown, they’re going to take the chance to invest in our communities. And when we bring fresh, healthy food to communities, what do we learn? People will buy it, right? People will buy it. These stores are turning a profit. And what’s going on is that they’re doing well by doing good. Isn’t that something? (Applause.)

So it’s because of this example that part of “Let’s Move” we created this Healthy Food Financing Initiative that’s modeled on what’s been going on here. And as Secretary Geithner said, with a modest initial investment of about $400 million a year, we’re going to use that money to leverage hundreds of millions more from private and non-profit sectors to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities all across this country. If you can do it here, we can do it around the country. (Applause.) And our goal is ambitious. It’s to eliminate food deserts in America completely in seven years. (Applause.)

Again, we know this is ambitious, but we also know that tackling the issue of accessibility and affordability is key to achieving the overall goal of solving childhood obesity in this generation.”

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To learn more about what you can do to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic – visit LetsMove.gov and become a fan of Let’s Move! on FaceBook.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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15 Scientific and Technical Achievements to be Honored with Academy Awards®

Posted by: Audiegrl

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences® today announced that 15 scientific and technical achievements represented by 46 individual award recipients will be honored at its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation at The Beverly Wilshire on Saturday, February 20, 2010.

Unlike other Academy Awards to be presented this year, achievements receiving Scientific and Technical Awards need not have been developed and introduced during 2009. Rather, the achievements must demonstrate a proven record of contributing significant value to the process of making motion pictures.

The Academy Awards for scientific and technical achievements are:


Technical Achievement Award (Academy Certificate)

Technical Achievement Award

Technical Achievement Award

To Mark Wolforth and Tony Sedivy for their contributions to the development of the Truelight real-time 3D look-up table hardware system. Through the use of color management software and hardware, this complete system enables accurate color presentation in the digital intermediate preview process. The Truelight system is widely utilized in digital intermediate production environments around the world.

To Dr. Klaus Anderle, Christian Baeker and Frank Billasch for their contributions to the LUTher 3D look-up table hardware device and color management software. The LUTher hardware was the first color look-up table processor to be widely adopted by the pioneering digital intermediate facilities in the industry. This innovation allowed the facilities to analyze projected film output and build 3D look-up tables in order to emulate print film, enabling accurate color presentation.

To Steve Sullivan, Kevin Wooley, Brett Allen and Colin Davidson for the development of the Imocap on-set performance capture system. Developed at Industrial Light & Magic and consisting of custom hardware and software, Imocap is an innovative system that successfully addresses the need for on-set, low-impact performance capture.

To Hayden Landis, Ken McGaugh and Hilmar Koch for advancing the technique of ambient occlusion rendering. Ambient occlusion has enabled a new level of realism in synthesized imagery and has become a standard tool for computer graphics lighting in motion pictures.

To Bjorn Heden for the design and mechanical engineering of the silent, two-stage planetary friction drive Heden Lens Motors. Solving a series of problems with one integrated mechanism, this device had an immediate and significant impact on the motion picture industry.


Scientific and Engineering Award (Academy Plaque)

Scientific & Engineering Award

To Per Christensen and Michael Bunnell for the development of point-based rendering for indirect illumination and ambient occlusion. Much faster than previous ray-traced methods, this computer graphics technique has enabled color bleeding effects and realistic shadows for complex scenes in motion pictures.

To Dr. Richard Kirk for the overall design and development of the Truelight real-time 3D look-up table hardware device and color management software. This complete system enables accurate color presentation in the digital intermediate preview process. The Truelight system is widely utilized in digital intermediate production environments around the world.

To Volker Massmann, Markus Hasenzahl, Dr. Klaus Anderle and Andreas Loew for the development of the Spirit 4K/2K film scanning system as used in the digital intermediate process for motion pictures. The Spirit 4K/2K has distinguished itself by incorporating a continuous-motion transport mechanism enabling full-range, high-resolution scanning at much higher frame rates than non-continuous transport scanners.

To Michael Cieslinski, Dr. Reimar Lenz and Bernd Brauner for the development of the ARRISCAN film scanner, enabling high-resolution, high-dynamic range, pin-registered film scanning for use in the digital intermediate process. The ARRISCAN film scanner utilizes a specially designed CMOS array sensor mounted on a micro-positioning platform and a custom LED light source. Capture of the film’s full dynamic range at various scan resolutions is implemented through sub-pixel offsets of the sensor along with multiple exposures of each frame.

To Wolfgang Lempp, Theo Brown, Tony Sedivy and Dr. John Quartel for the development of the Northlight film scanner, which enables high-resolution, pin-registered scanning in the motion picture digital intermediate process. Developed for the digital intermediate and motion picture visual effects markets, the Northlight scanner was designed with a 6K CCD sensor, making it unique in its ability to produce high-resolution scans of 35mm, 8-perf film frames.

To Steve Chapman, Martin Tlaskal, Darrin Smart and James Logie for their contributions to the development of the Baselight color correction system, which enables real-time digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital intermediate process. Baselight was one of the first digital color correction systems to enter the digital intermediate market and has seen wide acceptance in the motion picture industry.

To Mark Jaszberenyi, Gyula Priskin and Tamas Perlaki for their contributions to the development of the Lustre color correction system, which enables real-time digital manipulation of motion picture imagery during the digital intermediate process. Lustre is a software solution that enables non-linear, real-time digital color grading across an entire feature film, emulating the photochemical color-timing process.

To Brad Walker, D. Scott Dewald, Bill Werner and Greg Pettitt for their contributions furthering the design and refinement of the Texas Instruments DLP Projector, achieving a level of performance that enabled color-accurate digital intermediate previews of motion pictures. Working in conjunction with the film industry, Texas Instruments created a high-resolution, color-accurate, high-quality digital intermediate projection system that could closely emulate film-based projection in a theatrical environment.

To FUJIFILM Corporation, Ryoji Nishimura, Masaaki Miki and Youichi Hosoya for the design and development of Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI digital intermediate film, which was designed exclusively to reproduce motion picture digital masters. The Fujicolor ETERNA-RDI Type 8511/4511 digital intermediate film has thinner emulsion layers with extremely efficient couplers made possible by Super-Nano Cubic Grain Technology. This invention allows improved color sensitivity with the ability to absorb scattered light, providing extremely sharp images. The ETERNA-RDI emulsion technology also achieves less color cross-talk for exacting reproduction. Its expanded latitude and linearity provides superior highlights and shadows in a film stock with exceptional latent image stability.

To Paul Debevec, Tim Hawkins, John Monos and Mark Sagar for the design and engineering of the Light Stage capture devices and the image-based facial rendering system developed for character relighting in motion pictures. The combination of these systems, with their ability to capture high fidelity reflectance data of human subjects, allows for the creation of photorealistic digital faces as they would appear in any lighting condition.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

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Tea Party Express at Civil Rights District in Birmingham Alabama–We Should Be Outraged

Posted by Guest Contributor alpolitics from Progressive Electorate

Today the Tea Party Express rolled into Birmingham, Alabama – my hometown. Probably not a big surprise to anyone. But I’m absolutely shocked at the display that occurred in Kelly Ingram Park – right in the middle of the historic Civil Rights museum. Within feet of the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and the 16th Street Baptist Church – where four little girls were killed on September 15, 1963. In the middle of Kelly Ingram Park where Dr. Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth organized demonstrations for real freedom. Where Bull Connor turned the firehouses and dogs on children.

Here’s Kelly Ingram Park on May 3, 1963

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Here was Kelly Ingram Park on November 9, 2009

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One man had the audacity to say:

“I’m here for freedom,” said Pinson resident Tim Emala. “We need to get back to the Constitution. We seemed to have strayed away from it. The politicians need to read it.”

You are talking about freedom in the same place that people marched because they were forced to sit on the back of the bus, and use separate restrooms and attend separate schools. This could have been held anywhere in Birmingham but it was held in the cradle of the Civil Rights District. Where people marched and protested for real rights. And now they are protesting against health care which should be a right not a privilege.

You had this stupid rally using kids as props within a stones throw of where four little girls died simply because of the color of their skin.

Here are some images of statutes that are actually in the park to memorialize the significance of what occurred in the park during the 1960’s and the civil rights movement.

Three ministers

The three ministers statue in Kelly Ingram Park representing N.H. Smith, John T. Porter and A.D. King, who led a sympathy march on Palm Sunday in 1963 in support of jailed civil rights leaders: Revs. Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph Abernathy


child2

This sculpture is dedicated to the foot soldiers of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement who braved the dogs.


A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking towards the 16th Street Baptist Church.

A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking towards the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Charlene Cannon of Birmingham does a good job summing up her feelings, mine and I hope yours…

“They say they’re against taxation, it looks like it’s a No-Obama rally. My thing is they could have had this anywhere else other than Kelly Ingram Park”

Please check out the poignant video of Ms. Cannon here. More pictures from today can be viewed here. Another slide show here.

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Tea Party Express makes stop in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park

44-D Update

tea partyAlabama Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tim James attended the 32nd stop on the Tea Party Express national bus tour in Birmingham, Alabama. From the picture he looks as if he thoroughly enjoyed today’s Tea Party Rally in the Civil Rights district. It would be interesting to know what comment he has about the rally being held in such a hallowed place.

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TRMS Takes Down Another One: Rachel Maddow vs Tim Phillips

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DNC Ad Watch: “Republican Support”

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Ardi, The Oldest “Human” Skeleton Revealed — Along With New Discoveries About Food And Sex!

Posted by Audiegrl

Ancient Skeleton May Rewrite Earliest Chapter of Human Evolution

October Issue

October Issue

Science magazine presents 11 papers, by a multinational team of 47 researchers, describing an early hominid species, Ardipithecus ramidus. These 4.4 million year old hominid fossils sit within a critical early part of human evolution, and cast new and sometimes surprising light on the evolution of human limbs and locomotion, the habitats occupied by early hominids, and the nature of our last common ancestor with chimps.
An artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus

An artist's rendition of Ardipithecus ramidus


UK Daily Mail—She lived at the dawn of a new era, when chimps and people began walking (or climbing) along their own evolutionary trails. This is Ardi – the oldest member of the human family tree we’ve found so far.

Short, hairy and with long arms, she roamed the forests of Africa 4.4million years ago.

Her discovery, reported in detail for the first time today, sheds light on a crucial period when we were just leaving the trees. Some scientists said she could provide evidence that our ancestors first started walking upright in the pursuit of sex.

Conventional wisdom says our earliest ancestors first stood up on two legs when they moved out of the forest and into the open savannas. But this does not explain why Ardi’s species was bipedal (able to walk on two legs) while still living partly in the trees.

Owen Lovejoy from Kent State University said the answer could be as simple as food and sex.

He pointed out that throughout evolution males have fought with other males for the right to mate with fertile females. Therefore you would expect dominant males with big fierce canines to pass their genes down the generations.

But say a lesser male, with small stubby teeth realized he could entice a fertile female into mating by bringing her some food? Males would be far more successful food-providers if they had their hands free to carry home items like fruit and roots if they walked on two legs.

Mr Lovejoy said this could explain why males from Ardi’s species had small canines and stood upright – it was all in the pursuit of sex.

He added that it could also suggest that monogamous relationships may be far older than was first thought.

More @ mail-online-small

The Middle Awash study area, where the Ardipithecus bones were found

The Middle Awash study area, where the Ardipithecus bones were found


New York Times/John Noble Wilford—The Ardipithecus specimen, an adult female, probably stood four feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds, almost a foot taller and twice the weight of Lucy. Its brain was no larger than a modern chimp’s. It retained an agility for tree-climbing but already walked upright on two legs, a transforming innovation in hominids, though not as efficiently as Lucy’s kin.

Ardi’s feet had yet to develop the arch-like structure that came later with Lucy and on to humans. The hands were more like those of extinct apes. And its very long arms and short legs resembled the proportions of extinct apes, or even monkeys.

Tim D. White of the University of California, Berkeley, a leader of the team, said in an interview this week that the genus Ardipithecus appeared to resolve many uncertainties about “the initial stage of evolutionary adaptation” after the hominid lineage split from that of the chimpanzees. No fossil trace of the last common ancestor, which lived some time before six million years ago, according to genetic studies, has yet come to light.

The other two significant stages occurred with the rise of Australopithecus, which lived from about four million to one million years ago, and then the emergence of Homo, our own genus, before two million years ago. The ancestral relationship of Ardipithecus to Australopithecus has not been determined, but Lucy’s australopithecine kin are generally recognized as the ancestral group from which Homo evolved.

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A fairly complete skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus

A fairly complete skeleton of Ardipithecus ramidus

Science—Until now, the oldest known skeleton of a human ancestor was Lucy, who proved in one stroke that our ancestors walked upright before they evolved big brains. But at 3.2 million years old, she was too recent and already too much like a human to reveal much about her primitive origins. As a result, researchers have wondered since her discovery in 1974, what came before her–what did the early members of the human family look like?

Now, that question is being answered in detail for the first time. A multinational team discovered the first parts of the Ar. ramidus skeleton in 1994 in Aramis, Ethiopia. At 4.4 million years old, Ardi is not the oldest fossil proposed as an early hominin, or member of the human family, but it is by far the most complete–including most of the skull and jaw bones, as well as the extremely rare pelvis, hands, and feet. These parts reveal that Ardi had an intermediate form of upright walking, a hallmark of hominins, according to the authors of 11 papers that describe Ardi and at least 35 other individuals of her species. But Ardi still must have spent a lot of time in the trees, the team reports, because she had an opposable big toe. That means she was probably grasping branches and climbing carefully to reach food, to sleep in nests, and to escape predators.

More @ sciencemaglogo

The reduced size of canine teeth is an indication of a shift in social behavior away from male-male aggression, and is one of the hallmarks of the human lineage.

The reduced size of canine teeth is an indication of a shift in social behavior away from male-male aggression, and is one of the hallmarks of the human lineage.

Reuters—Genetics suggest that humans and our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, diverged 6 million to 7 million years ago, although some research suggests this may have happened 4 million years ago.

Ardi” is clearly a human ancestor and her descendants did not grow up to be chimpanzees or other apes, the researchers report in Science.

She had an ape-like head and opposable toes that allowed her to climb trees easily, but her hands, wrists and pelvis show she strode like a modern human and did not knuckle-walk like a chimp or a gorilla.

People have sort of assumed that modern chimpanzees haven’t evolved very much, that the last common ancestor was more or less like a chimpanzee and that it’s been … the human lineage … that’s done all the evolving,” White said.

But “Ardi” is “even more primitive than a chimpanzee,” White said.

So chimps and gorillas do not knuckle-walk because they are more primitive than humans — they have evolved this characteristic that helps them live in their forest homes.

White, Berhane Asfaw of Rift Valley Research Service in Addis Ababa and a large team analyzed all the bones of Ardi and found she might have been more peace-loving than modern chimpanzees. She does not have the long, sharp canines that chimps use to fight, for instance.

And males and females have similar-sized teeth, suggesting more equality than seen among modern apes.

More @ reuterssmall

An introduction to Ardi by the Associated Press

A wonderfully informative video by Science magazine

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‘Ardi’ Slideshow

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Fossil hunters in Ethiopia are excavating a mandible, or lower jaw, of Ardipithecus ramidus. A fairly complete skeleton of this individual, nicknamed Ardi, is 4.4-million-years-old. It lived well before and was much more primitive than the 3.2-million-year-old Lucy skeleton, of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Unveiling the Ardi remains this week, scientists said this was the earliest known skeleton of a potential human ancestor. (Photo: Tim White and David L. Brill)

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Ardi was discovered in the arid badlands along the middle stretch of the Awash River, near the village of Aramis in Ethiopia. Arid now, it was a cooler, humid woodland in the time of the early hominids Ardipithecus ramidus. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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For the past 17 years, scientists collected fragments, some tiny pieces of bone, that represented more than 110 specimens from a minimum of 36 different individuals of the Ardipthecus species, including Ardi. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The few modern Homo sapiens living near the discovery site at Aramis include this Ethiopian goat herder. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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Since the first tooth of the new species was picked up in 1992, members of the Middle Awash research project returned year after year to explore the remote site. Here they are on the dusty trail, driving to camp from a survey trip. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The excavation team sits down to breakfast before heading off on another day of fossil hunting in the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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An Ethiopian herder, one of the Afar people, moves his stock from the Awash River toward Yardi Lake. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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Berhane Asfaw, an Ethiopian paleoanthropologist, works with the local Afars who occupy the lands of the area of the Ardipithecus discoveries. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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At the discovery site, Tim D. White, left, a leader of the project, and Yohannes Haile-Selassie crawl over the parched surface looking for the tiniest fossil fragments.(Photo: David L. Brill)



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A collection of the fossilized bones that were assembled into the partial skeleton of Ardi. (Photo: David L. Brill)





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This is the site, known as Yonas Arm, that yielded fossil evidence of Ardipithecus ramidus. (Photo: David L. Brill)




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Scientists have identified both primitive and evolved characteristics of the 4.4-million-year-old Ardi hominid. Here, the hand bones were more like those of earlier apes. (Photo: David L. Brill)



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The Ardipithecus specimen, an adult female, probably stood four feet tall and weighed about 120 pounds, almost a foot taller and twice the weight of Lucy. The paleoanthropologists wrote in one of the articles that Ardipithecus was “so rife with anatomical surprises that no one could have imagined it without direct fossil evidence.” (Photo: Tim White 2008, from the Oct. 2 issue of Science)

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