Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lucy on tour

This is way cool:

The State Department gave final approval Wednesday for one of the world's most famous fossils — the 3.2 million-year-old Lucy skeleton unearthed in Ethiopia in 1974 — to tour the U.S. on exhibit for the first time.

Okay, the actual experience promises to be quite a bit less impressive than the idea -- a partial skeleton arranged in a box. But to actually get a chance to view real 3-million-year-old bones -- instead of a replica -- has my inner science geek excited. The fact that Lucy is thought to be one of the oldest human ancestors yet discovered is simply icing on the cake.

Lucy's first stop is Houston, where she'll stay until April 2008. Then it's on to other cities, including Washington, New York, Denver and Chicago. We've been meaning to take a family vacation to Chicago anyway, and if that's the closest Lucy comes to Minnesota it provides a good excuse to go.

1. A primer on Lucy from Arizona State University. The info is pretty good, even if the Web designer was unable to spell "institute."

2. A fairly extensive review from Washington State University of what is known about her species, Australopithicus afarensis.

3. A Scientific American piece on "Lucy's baby," (a baby A. afarenis), that includes a discussion of some of the questions and controversies surrounding Lucy and her species.

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