Lucy is forty!


November 24, 2014

Lucy, the three million year old fossil skeleton, turns 40 today. On November 24, 1974 a young paleoanthropologist named Donald Johanson was returning to camp. He glanced over his shoulder and something caught his eye. A bit of bone protruding from the sloping ground. Later given the scientific binomial Australopithecus afarensis, this fossil provided a new way of looking at human evolution.

Careful excavation over the next several weeks revealed a 40% complete skeleton. The individual had been small statured and female. As Johanson’s team worked on the fossils that first night in camp, a boombox was playing a tape of Beatles songs. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” played and a nickname was born.

an extensive discussion of Lucy’s significance can be found on our Timeline.