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Australopithecus afarensis: AL 288-1

  • Common Name:

    Lucy

  • Geologic Age:

    3.2 Ma

  • Discovery Date:

    30 Nov 1974

  • Discovered By:

    Donald Johanson

  • Discovery Location:

    Hadar, Ethiopia

  • Cranial Capacity:

    410 cc

  • Specimen Age:

    Adult

  • Sex:

    Female

  • Estimated Weight:

    106 lbs.

  • Height:

    107 cm

  • Original Publication:

    Johanson and Taieb 1976

    Over 40% of Lucy’s skeleton was recovered, making her one of the most complete fossil hominins ever found. Among the 47 fossilized bones recovered were fragments of her mandible, cranium, ribs, vertebrae, clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia, fibula, pelvis, sacrum, and phalanges.

    The wide range of preserved elements offers a unique opportunity to reconstruct a great deal of australopithecine anatomy and hypothesize about Lucy’s behavior. For example, dental eruption and complete fusion of the epiphyeasel lines on her bones indicate Lucy was a mature adult, while her small stature (107 cm) and the shape of her pelvis indicate that she was female. As with other A. afarensis fossils, Lucy has a relatively small brain at approximately 410 cc.

    In addition, her upper limbs appear more similar to arboreal primate, such as extant chimpanzees, but her lower limb morphology exhibit features typical of habitual bipedalism. Mosaic features such as these suggest that A. afarensis was fully bipedal but continued to spend large amounts of time in trees, perhaps to access food resources or seeking refuge from predators.

    1. Johanson CJ, Lovejoy CO, Kimbel WH, White TD, Ward SC, Bush ME, Latimer BM, and Coppens Y. 1982. Morphology of the Pliocene Partial Hominid Skeleton (A.L. 288-1) from the Hadar Formation, Ethiopia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 57:403-451

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