Alemseged Lab

Science: Lucy’s World

Apr 5, 2024

This week, Science magazine published the article “Lucy’s World: Was Lucy the mother of us all? Fifty years after her discovery, the 3.2-million-year-old skeleton has rivals” by Ann Gibbons. She briefly details how Zeray got involved in paleoanthropology before writing about the history of Lucy’s place in our human family tree. Our understanding of Lucy’s kind, Australopithecus afarensis, has evolved over the five decades since her discovery and within the context of other newly discovered species. Yet, as Zeray points out, “so far, no other fossil is a better candidate for being the mother of us all.”

Science website for Lucy's World article

Image from Science’s online article “Lucy’s World”; Lucy reconstruction by John Gurche.

Ann highlights the ongoing scientific debates in paleoanthropology, such as a fossil classified as A. deyiremeda;¬†Zeray believes the dental remains more likely speak to the variability of A. afarensis instead of being a new species. Ann also mentions Zeray’s “unambiguous evidence” for tool use dating to 3.4 million years ago at Dikika, though a few in the field are reluctant to agree. Since Lucy’s initial finding, many other individuals of her kind have been discovered, including Zeray’s unearthing of “Lucy’s child” who is nicknamed “Selam.”

Christopher holding Selam's skull

For more Science articles like this one, Ann has published several pieces related to Zeray’s work.

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