Famous fossil Lucy makes a final stop at Bowers

Lucy at Bowers Museum (Photo: Orange County Register)
Lucy at Bowers Museum (Photo: Orange County Register)

Lucy’s ancient skeletal remains, an important scientific find, will return to Ethiopia after April 28.

By Richard Chang  / Orange County Register

You may not believe this, but the world’s most famous fossil was named after a Beatles song.

“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was playing on a tape recorder in 1974 as scientists celebrated the discovery in Ethiopia of a remarkably intact, ancient hominid skeleton. At 3.2 million years old, Australopithecus afarensis, as it became known scientifically, was the oldest hominin remains discovered at the time.

American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and his colleagues nicknamed their find “Lucy,” after the 1967 tune by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The nickname stuck.

Through April 28, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana is presenting “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasure of Ethiopia.” The exhibition includes the ancient Lucy skeleton, of which 40 percent has been preserved. She remains the oldest and most complete adult human ancestor retrieved from African soil.

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