Famed “Lucy” Fossils Discovered in Ethiopia, 40 Years Ago

History
November 24,2014

Source - History  A sculptor's rendering of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis on display in 2007. (Credit: Dave Einsel/Getty Images)
Source – History
A sculptor’s rendering of the hominid Australopithecus afarensis on display in 2007. (Credit: Dave Einsel/Getty Images)

While hunting for fossils in Ethiopia ’s Afar Triangle on November 24, 1974, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and graduate student Tom Gray stumbled upon the partial remains of a previously unknown species of ape-like hominid. Nicknamed “Lucy,” the mysterious skeleton was eventually classified as a 3.2 million-year-old “Australopithecus afarensis”—one of humankind’s earliest ancestors. The headline-grabbing find filled in crucial gaps in the human family tree, but it also shook up ideas about early human evolution and upright walking. Forty years later, learn the story behind the fossil that permanently changed scientists’ understanding of human origins.

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