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Discovery Channel Special with Kent State Professor Airs Oct. 11

Posted Oct, 7, 2009

Kent State anthropologist Dr. C. Owen Lovejoy, distinguished University Professor, will be featured in a Discovery Channel special that premieres Sunday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m. ET. Following publication in the journal Science on the discovery and study of a 4.4 million-year-old female partial skeleton nicknamed "Ardi," Discovery Channel presents a world premiere special, "Discovering Ardi," documenting the sustained, intensive investigation leading up to this landmark publication and research findings announcement of the Ardipithecus ramidus fossils.

"Understanding Ardi," a one-hour special produced in collaboration with CBS News will air at 11 p.m. ET immediately following "Discovering Ardi." The special is moderated by former CBS and CNN anchor Paula Zahn and includes Lovejoy and his research team members, including Dr. Tim White, Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Dr. Giday WoldeGabriel, and science journalist Ann Gibbons.

"Ardi" is now the oldest skeleton from our (hominid) branch of the primate family tree. These Ethiopian discoveries reveal an early grade of human evolution in Africa that predated the famous Australopithecus nicknamed "Lucy." Ardipithecus was a woodland creature with a small brain, long arms and short legs. The pelvis and feet show a primitive form of two-legged walking on the ground, but Ardipithecus was also a capable tree climber, with long fingers and big toes that allowed their feet to grasp like an ape's. The discoveries answer old questions about how hominids became bipedal.

"The novel anatomy that we describe in these papers fundamentally alters our understanding of human origins and early evolution," Lovejoy said.

For more information on the Discovery Channel special, visit http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/ardipithecus/ardipithecus.html?campaign=dsc-int-hp-dl-ardi.

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