In 1974 Donald Johanson discovers Lucy: Australopithecus afarensis
Donald Johanson is an American paleontologist, born in 1943, who became famous for discovering in 1974, at age 31, the remains of a bipedal hominid, different to Homo sapiens, which lived in the region of Hadar, Ethiopia, 3.18 million years ago.
The specimen found was named Lucy after the Beatles song, because the night of the discovery, the whole camp celebrated listening to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” For the next 20 years, Lucy was the earliest hominid ever found.
The scientific name for Lucy is Australopithecus afarensis. It is still a hominid with a small skull the size of today’s apes, but with clear evidence of bipedalism. Lucy is one of the few hominid fossils that are relatively complete. Johanson’s team managed to recover 40% of the skeleton. Today we know that the species to which Lucy belongs is an ancestor species of Homo sapiens. Paleontologists have been able to find around 100 different individuals.