Night sky, diamonds and precious bones

Hi everyone, I’m told it was a beautiful night around the campfire near the Awash River in Ethiopia when I got my name.

Awash River

Archeologists had found my bones scattered around and they were excited at the possibility that they might learn a lot from them.  The scattering is strange, since I remember those bones clearly as being part of my body, all nicely connected.

I suppose that in 3.2 million years a few things could have shifted. I’m told there was an arm bone fragment lying on a slope, a small skull, a thigh bone, some vertebrae and ribs, part of a pelvis and even a jaw bone. I want to thank the Institute of Human Origins for keeping track of all this, and especially Donald Johanson for putting me back together and writing about it.

But I digress. Everybody asks about my nickname.

Here’s how the story goes, according to Dr. Johanson. It was was evening and they were celebrating.

“The camp was rocking with excitement. That first night we never went to bed at all. We drank beer after beer. There was a tape recorder in the camp, and a tape of the Beatles song, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ went belting out into the night sky, and was played at full volume over and over again out of sheer exuberance.

“At some point during that unforgettable evening…the new fossil picked up the name of Lucy, and has been so known ever since.”

   Donald Johanson, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind

Since my official name is AL 288-1, you can imagine how happy I am that someone was playing such great music that night and all the archeologist who found my bones had a sense of humor.

Have a happy Solstice this week. Welcome back the sun and warmth. It is still one of my favorite holidays. And take a look at my tweet of the discovery that my ancestors left Asia for Africa even longer ago than people thought, maybe 37 million years ago. And you thought I was old.

Lucy

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