Lucy’s back in town.
AL 288-1, aka Lucy, was discovered in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia in 1974. The hundreds of little pieces add up to about 40% of the skeleton of a 3.2 million year old female Australopithecus afarensis. She was named after the Beatles song that the paleontologists were listening to at their camp (among the team was one of my Berkeley anthro professors, Tim White; you know how we love the Beatles in Berkeley).
Lucy’s been on tour in the US for five years but on May 7 she returned to her permanent home at the National Museum here in Addis Ababa. We went to see her this weekend.
To the dismay of a few of us in the party, Lucy’s back, but she’s not on display. The real fossil bones are locked away in a secure storage room. What’s in the case is a replica. The guard wasn’t really able to explain why this is. I suppose maybe they don’t have the proper security, though I don’t know why someone would steal this. For ransom, maybe. There is a history of locking up the national treasures here – the Ark of the Covenant is believed to be in an ancient church in Axum (northern Ethiopia), but no one can look at it except one person, the Guardian of the Ark.
In 2009, while Lucy was on tour, paleontologists dug up even older bones. Ardi predates Lucy by just over a million years. Like Lucy, she lived in Ethiopia, but I cannot tell you where she is now.
Hello, I have been meaning to leave a comment on your blog for a while as it makes me very nostalgic reading your posts. I spent 3 years on and off in Ethiopia (in the Bale Mountains) between 2007 and 2010 while doing my PhD and reading you brings back so many memories! There’s always something to make me smile 🙂
Lucy was on tour when I came to see her, so glad she is back where she belongs.
Thanks for the comment, Made in Suisse! I am looking forward to visiting the Bale Mountains next year. I’d love to photograph some Ethiopian wolves. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog.