Lucy: the beginnings of humankind by Donald C. Johanson“A glorious success…The science manages to be as exciting and spellbinding as the juiciest gossip” (San Franscisco Chronicle) in the story of the discovery of “Lucy”—the oldest, best-preserved skeleton of any erect-walking human ancestor ever found.
When Donald Johanson found a partical skeleton, approximately 3.5 million years old, in a remote region of Ethiopia in 1974, a headline-making controversy was launched that continues on today. Bursting with all the suspense and intrigue of a fast paced adventure novel, here is Johanson’s lively account of the extraordinary discovery of “Lucy.” By expounding the controversial change Lucy makes in our view of human origins, Johanson provides a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of the history of pealeoanthropology and the colorful, eccentric characters who were and are a part of it. Never before have the mystery and intricacy of our origins been so clearly and compellingly explained as in this astonighing and dramatic book.
Lucy: A marvelous specimen
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They had taken a Land Rover out that day to map in another locality. After a long, hot morning of mapping and surveying for fossils, they decided to head back to the vehicle. Johanson suggested taking an alternate route back to the Land Rover, through a nearby gully. Within moments, he spotted a right proximal ulna forearm bone and quickly identified it as a hominid. Shortly thereafter, he saw an occipital skull bone, then a femur, some ribs, a pelvis, and the lower jaw. Two weeks later, after many hours of excavation, screening, and sorting, several hundred fragments of bone had been recovered, representing 40 percent of a single hominid skeleton. Later in the night of November 24, there was much celebration and excitement over the discovery of what looked like a fairly complete hominid skeleton.
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. It was November 24, In the United States of America, the year's number-one music singles included "Annie's Song" by John Denver and "Bennie and the Jets" by Elton John, but an international field crew of paleoanthropologists , geologists, graduate students, and Ethiopian fossil-hunters were not listening to the latest U. Donald Johanson and his graduate student, Tom Gray, while walking across 3. In , Johanson was 31 years old, a newly-minted Ph. He had traveled to Ethiopia before, in , on a reconnaissance trip to inspect the geological formations and fossiliferous deposits of the Afar region of Ethiopia, and again in , when he made his first hominin discovery at Hadar—a knee joint.
When this small-bodied, small-brained hominin was discovered, it proved that our early human relatives habitually walked on two legs. Its story began to take shape in late November in Ethiopia, with the discovery of the skeleton of a small female, nicknamed Lucy.
where the sky meets the earth
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First discovered in , the discovery was remarkably 'complete' - 40 per cent of her skeleton was found intact, rather than just a handful of incomplete and damaged fossils that usually make up remains of a similar age. He put a Beatles cassette in the tape player, and when Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds came on, one of the group said he should call the skeleton Lucy. One of the most important things about Lucy is the way she walked. By studying her bones, in particular the structure of her knee and spine curvature, scientists were able to discover that she spent most of her time walking on two legs - a striking human-like trait. However, there is one tooth mark from a carnivore on the top of her left pubic bone - but it's not known whether this happened before she died, or whether she was bitten after. However, the real skeleton was taken on a tour of the US from , despite fears that the tour would damage it. Australopithecus afarensis may have walked upright and looked somewhat human-like, but they were much smaller than we are.
All rights reserved. Perhaps the world's most famous early human ancestor, the 3. Discovered in by paleontologist Donald C. Johanson in Hadar, Ethiopia, A. With a mixture of ape and human features—including long dangling arms but pelvic, spine, foot, and leg bones suited to walking upright—slender Lucy stood three and a half feet centimeters tall.