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To save the precious fragments, White and colleagues removed the fossils along with their surrounding rock.
The skeleton announced today was discovered that same year and excavated with the bones of the other individuals over the next three field seasons.
All previously known hominids—members of our ancestral lineage—walked upright on two legs, like us.
But Ardi's feet, pelvis, legs, and hands suggest she was a biped on the ground but a quadruped when moving about in the trees.
According to the researchers, the pelvis shows a similar mosaic of traits.
The large flaring bones of the upper pelvis were positioned so that Ardi could walk on two legs without lurching from side to side like a chimp.
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The centerpiece of a treasure trove of new fossils, the skeleton—assigned to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus—belonged to a small-brained, 110-pound (50-kilogram) female nicknamed "Ardi." (See pictures of Ardipithecus ramidus.) The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today's apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree.