Lucy, thirty years later: An expanded view of Australopithecus afarensis

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Abstract

Commencing in the 1970s, paleoanthropological exploration of Ethiopia's Afar Triangle has made ever-increasing contributions to our knowledge of human origins, ranging from putative early hominids at 6 million years ago to the appearance of Homo sapiens at 150,000 BP. One of the most significant and fossil-rich sites is Hadar, best known for the 1974 discovery of a 3.2-million-year-old partial skeleton, colloquially known as "Lucy" and assigned to the species Australopithecus afarensis. Renewed fieldwork at Hadar initiated in 1990 has significantly enlarged the Hadar A. afarensis collection, which now totals 362 specimens spanning 400,000 years from 3.4 to 3.0 million years ago. The discovery of male and female skulls provides vital knowledge for our understanding of A. afarensis. The oldest known co-occurrence of Oldowan tools and early Homo was also documented at Hadar in 2.33-million-year-old strata. With affinities to H. habilis, this discovery casts important light on to the origins of our own genus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-486
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Anthropological Research
Volume60
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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