Lucy the Australopithecus: Google doodles 41st anniversary of her discovery

Today, 41 years ago, Lucy was discovered.

Before her discovery, scientists had speculated that bipedalism – one of the key difference between the Homo genus and Pan – came alongside the development of larger brains, but Lucy proved otherwise.

Fossil discovery has always been a significant event and when “Lucy” was discovered in 1973 on November 24 a new age began.

Lucy is the name given to a collection of fossilised bones that once made up the skeleton of a hominid from the Australopithecus afarensis species, who is proven to have lived around 3.2 million years ago in Ethiopia.

To recognise the discovery’s importance to our understanding of evolution, today’s Google Doodle by Kevin Laughlin animates the three major chapters in our species’ evolution to where we are today.

Lucy has grabbed the public attention and became more popular after it was publicly announced about the discovery. Referring to this structure, scientists concluded that Lucy mainly walked upright which is similar feature as that of a human.

Homo Habilis, the earliest form of Homo, is believed to have descended from Afarensis or subsequent species of Australopithecus before homo sapiens came on the scene about 200,000 years ago. She was named after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” After making the historic find, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson headed back to his campsite with his team.

The cause of Lucy’s death is unknown, but it is believed that she was a mature but young adult when she died.

She was found to be only 3.7ft tall and weighed just 29kg.

A number of factors point to Lucy being fully grown.

She had longer arms relative to her legs, but not as long as those of a chimpanzee. Her skeletal remains are kept in a National Museum in Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa. Only a plaster replica of her skeleton is available to be seen by the public.

A sculptor's rendering of Lucy when she was alive displayed at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas Dave Einsel  Getty Images

 

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