In our home we're currently trying to settle on a color of bark to lay down on a patch of sloping front yard that needs some sprucing up. For Australopithecus sediba, however, that same bark would make a tasty meal.
Just nine months ago in this space, Casey Luskin was predicting that a much-hyped human "ancestor," Au. sediba, wouldn't hold that title long and would instead soon enough be relegated to the side of the ledger that's filled with ape-like non-ancestors.
The trail of fallen ancestors brings us to the present day, September 2011, when the media has started a new cycle of hype with Australopithecus sediba. If history is a guide, within months or a few years we should expect to see cooler heads prevail in their analyses of this fossil.
Sure enough, the cooling trend is now plainly in evidence, with Nature reporting that the creatures had a very notable characteristic in common with chimps, not humans, that had not previously been recognized: their diet, highlighted by tree bark and wood. This was found thanks to an analysis of tooth enamel and dental tartar and microwear. The NY Times lets its readers down softly:
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