Although I am quite excited about Ardipithecus (more about the actual substance of the papers later) finally being published, there are a couple of things that really annoy the living daylights out of me.
First, in both the papers and the specials about them, White and his group refer to the common ancestor of chimps and humans and the common ancestor of that clade with the gorillas, which is fine except when they seem to commingle the two. At some points it is not at all clear which they are referring to – the two are different critters.
Second, the whole “this proves humans didn’t evolve from chimpanzees as previously thought” stuff. I mean, really? No one in paleoanthropology has thought anything like that for a long, long time. Chimps have been evolving for 5-6 million years and no one thinks that extent chimps and extent humans would look much like their common ancestor – cladistic reconstruction of the ancestral condition for both would indicate that. To be fair, a number of people have used chimp and bonobo behavior as guides for interpreting the behavior of earlier hominins. White and company themselves do that, so I am not sure what the point is.
Third, and this is admittedly very nitpicky, but “Ardi”, surely a better nickname was available. I mean, why don’t we call Australopithecus afarensis “Affi” and Homo habilis “Habi” and Mortopithecus “Mori”. Seriously, it’s like getting a dog and naming it “Dog”.