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10-12-2009, 08:52 AM
'Ardi' Scientists Used LifeModeler's Software to Understand How Earliest Hominid Moved

Researchers who spent 15 years studying the skeletal remains of "Ardi," a hominid who lived 4.4 million years ago, turned to a LifeModeler, Inc., to help them understand how the 110-pound, 4-foot female walked and moved.

Scientific papers about the nearly complete fossilized skeleton that were published this week have set off something of a media sensation over the ancient creature formally known as Ardipithecus ramidus. The discovery extends the fossil record of the human lineage to a point a million years before "Lucy," the Australopithecus specimen that was the previous record holder. Perhaps more importantly, scientists were surprised to find that the oldest human ancestor walked upright on the ground. Many researchers had previously believed that such an early ancestor would be a "knuckle-walker" that moved about on all fours limbs, like modern chimpanzees.

LifeModeler scientists worked with Professor Owen Lovejoy to assemble 3-D images of Ardi's bones into a functional skeleton. Muscles were then laced through the model and attached to various boney landmarks indicated by the ancient bones. The lower leg model was then actuated and provided information to the riddle: "How could a foot which could grasp a branch also walk efficiently?". The data and knowledge gained from this lower leg model was then used in conjunction with motion capture data from a test subject to generate a complete model of the hominid.

Shawn McGuan and his team can be seen on the 2-hour Discovery Channel program, "Discovering Ardi" to be aired:

Oct 11, 9:00 pm
Oct 12, 12:00 am
Oct 15, 9:00 pm
Oct 16, 12:00 am

Shawn McGuan
LifeModeler, Inc.
Bringing Simulation to Life

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