On November 24th, 1974, a group of paleontologists led by Dr. Donald Johanson discovered a partial skeleton approximately 3.5 million years old in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Johanson, along with colleague Tom Gray had been focusing their interests on another part of the Afar area, when Johanson decided to move in a different direction and hoped to get lucky. Johanson discovered portions of an arm bone and quickly declared it as a hominid. As they searched more, Johanson and Gray found a jaw bone, thigh bones, ribs, and vertebrae. After about 3 weeks Gray and Johanson concluded that about 40 percent of the skeleton was recovered. This would prove to be a groundbreaking step for paleontology. For the record the correct identification for this discovery was AL-288-1 (Afar Locality #288), but was later renamed "Lucy." It was named Lucy after the Beatles song "Lucy in the sky with diamonds", which Johanson was listening to when he discovered the first bone. When he first discovered her, Johanson was immediately able to identify Lucy as a hominid. A hominid refers to a member of the zoological family Hominidae. Hominidae cover all species originating after the human/African ape ancestral split. It was so clear that Lucy was a hominid because she stood and walked in an upright position. How do we even know this much? When collecting the bones, Johanson observed the vertebrae showing evidence of spinal curvatures necessitated by a permanent upright stance. There were many other clues but this one was by far the most revealing. Though it is not exactly clear how she died, Lucy was a full grown adult when she did die. There are many indicators proving this theory. Her wisdom teeth were completely grown in, her bones were fully developed, also her vertebrae show signs of degenerative disease, however this is not related to old age. When all these factors were brought together Johanson suggested that she was a young, but fully mature adult when she died. When she...
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