November 24, 2015
41st Anniversary of the discovery of Lucy
On November 24th, 1974, as dusk settled upon the southern edge of the Afar Triangle near a village called Hadar, a team of scientists organized by Yves Coppens, Maurice Taieb and Donald Johanson toasted a tremendous discovery. They had been scouring this region for weeks--an area Taieb had brought to the forefront of anthropological research years earlier--and that morning their search paid enormous dividends with the find of Dr. Johanson and his student Tom Gray. The skeletal fragments unearthed in the Ethiopian landscape made up the most complete example of Australopithecus afarensis ever found.
While they celebrated, a small tape recorder blared ”Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, again and again. And then it struck someone--what finer name than Lucy for the incredible specimen pulled from the sand that day?
In the coming months and years, this find would upend our understanding of bipedalism, and rewrite a significant chapter in the story of human evolution. To recognize the 41st anniversary of this historic moment, Kevin Laughlin has brought Lucy and her upright gait to life on our homepage.