A 4.4 million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a hominid female nicknamed Ardi, short for Ardipithecus, could be the oldest hominid skeleton ever found. Up to now, Lucy--Australopithecus afarensis, a 3-million year old skeleton--was thought to be the oldest hominid skeleton known.
Since Darwin’s 'The Origin of Species' was published in 1859, scientists have been searching for the ‘missing link.’ In Darwin’s day, the assumption was that evolution was a straight line progression from ape to modern man. Since then, a number of discoveries have changed that view to one in which the evolutionary trail is like a tree with species branching from a main trunk.
Ardi further changes the postulation that humans evolved from a chimpanzee-like creature and asserts instead that chimps and humans evolved from a common ancestor.