Lucy’s children and human origins

Session Date: 
Apr 6, 2024

Owing to its morphological and temporal placement, the Lucy species, Australopithecus afarensis, plays a pivotal role in our understanding of the human evolutionary career. Though many more fossil remains were recovered subsequent to Lucy’s discovery, the impact of the latter cannot be overstated not least its role as a trove of scientific data as well as its iconic nature. Research on Lucy and its species and continued fieldwork have inspired many research projects across Africa especially the Afar region of Ethiopia. One such project is the Dikika Research Project, which has discovered the earliest and most complete skeleton of a juvenile A. afarensis, dating back to 3.32 million years ago, filling in a major gap in our knowledge of the species. Here, I will briefly discuss what we learn from this skeleton about the Lucy species and what that implies to our knowledge of the many descendants of A. afarensis including our own species.