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Lucy The Australopithecus: 5 Things To Know About Google Doodle Honoree

Tue, November 24, 2015 9:47am EDT by Add first Comment
Who Is Lucy
Courtesy of Google/Courtesy of ASU

The Google doodle on November 24 marks the 41st anniversary of the discovery of Lucy, the skeleton found in Ethiopia that helped scientists understand the evolution of bipedal apes into humans. It’s obvious that she needs to be celebrated! Click through to learn more about Lucy!

Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis is 3.2 million years old, but was just uncovered 41 years ago; her discovery helped scientists further figure out how apes transitioned into humans, as she possessed both human and ape characteristics. Without her, we would be missing so much about what made humans, well, humans! Google decided to celebrate her discovery as one of their famed Google doodles on November 24. If you’re like us, and curious to know more about Lucy, click through to learn five interesting facts!

Google’s honor to Lucy and the paleontologists who discovered her, Donald Johanson and Tom Gray, is gorgeous. Both G’s, the L and the E are comprised of Lucy’s skeleton. The rest show the evolution of ape, to Lucy, to human. In .gif form, an ape walking on all fours crawls behind Lucy, who’s strolling along on two paws. Lucy’s right behind a human.

How was Lucy discovered? 

Tom and Donald uncovered Lucy at the Hadar dig site in Ethiopia on November 24, 1974. After a morning of mapping for fossils somewhere different, the two decided to head back to their car for a break. That’s when Donald spotted a forearm bone sticking out of the ground, and realized it was a hominid (in the same family as humans). After searching the area, he found a skull, femur, some ribs, a pelvis, and the lower jaw. Two weeks of meticulous digging and evaluation later, several hundred bone fragments were uncovered, representing 40% of a skeleton — something majorly impressive for fossils of that incredible age.

Why was she named Lucy?

This is going to make a lot more sense when you remember it was the ’70s. She was named after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” You see, after their incredible discovery, there was a huge rager at the dig site, with the Beatles blasting on the stereo. And thus, Lucy’s nickname has stuck.

How did Lucy die?

What’s interesting about Lucy is the lack of evidence about how she died. Most skeletons of the time feature bite and crushing marks, because they were usually killed by predators then scavenged by animals like hyenas. The only mark on Lucy is a single carnivore tooth puncture mark on the top of her left pubic bone, which seems to be caused either at the time of her death or postmortem. That calls to question whether her kind started being killed by other means.

How do we know Lucy was female?

Lucy belongs to the species Australopithecus afarensis, in which males are larger and females are smaller. Lucy’s bones are smaller than some perceivably male fossils found in East Africa, therefore she’s been determined female.

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Where is Lucy’s skeleton stored?

Lucy’s skeleton is stored in a airtight safe at the Paleoanthropology Laboratories of the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. However, many detailed casts have been made of her skeleton to provide for research facilities, classrooms and museums around the world.

HollywoodLifers, are you glad that Lucy was made the Google doodle?