Born: c. 3.2 million years ago
The fossil known as Lucy is one of the oldest and best-preserved skeletons of a hominid (two-footed, humanlike primate). Lucy was of the species Australopithecus afarensis. Her remains were found in Hadar, Ethiopia, in 1974 by American anthropologist Donald Johanson and his student, Tom Gray. She was named for the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which was being played at a party that celebrated her discovery.
During her life, Lucy stood about 3.5 feet tall and weighed close to 65 pounds. The shape of her leg bones, pelvis, and spine indicate that she walked upright. She is estimated to have been between 25 and 30 years old when she died of an unknown cause. Compared with humans, Lucy had a small skull, long arms, and short legs.
Lucy’s skeleton, which is about 40 percent complete, is stored in a safe in Ethiopia, though casts of it have been exhibited worldwide. It is nearly 3.2 million years old.
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