By Maina Kiarie
Ardipithecus kadabba was discovered in the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia 1997, by paleoanthropologist Yohannes Haile-Selassie. It is a fossil of the genus Ardipithecus and lived between 5.8 and 5.2 million years ago and was bipedal (walked upright). A. kadabba (kadabba means ‘oldest ancestor in the Afar language) had a body and brain size similar to modern chimpanzees and had canines that look like those in later hominins but that still project beyond the tooth row.
11 specimens from 5 individuals include hand and foot bones, a collarbone (clavicle) partial arm bones, a toe bones, post-cranial bones and sets of teeth. Analysis of these bones have led to the conclusions that A. kadabba walked upright, ate a variety of fibrous foods and nuts and did most of its chewing with the back of its mouth. The back teeth of Ardipithecus kadabba are larger than a chimpanzee’s, but its front teeth are narrower. Its body size is likely close to that of a chimpanzee.
A. kadabba’s environment would have been a mixture of woodlands and grasslands and they had plenty of access to water via lakes and springs.
Is Ardipithecus kadabba related to Orrorin tugenensis and Sahelanthropus tchadensis? How? Scientists continue to research to find answers to this and several other questions related to this species.