“Lucy” is the iconic imputed human ancestor from 3.2 mya, Austropithecus afarensis.
From Deborah Netburn at Los Angeles Times:
After examining high-resolution CT scans of broken bones in Lucy’s right shoulder, as well as the damage to other parts of her skeleton, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin propose that the small hominid’s life ended shortly after a catastrophic fall from a great height — probably from a tree.
“What we see is a pattern of fractures that are well documented in cases of people who have suffered a severe fall,” said John Kappelman, a UT professor of anthropology and geological sciences. “This wouldn’t happen if you just fell over.” More.
But there are doubts: From Washington Post:
But other paleontologists aren’t so sure.
“I’ve worked in Eastern Africa at these sites for many years, and there’s hardly a fossil out there that doesn’t have damage like Lucy has,” said William Kimbel, director of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University. Kimbel, who wasn’t involved in the new study, doesn’t agree that the fractures on Lucy’s bones are greenstick — and without this distinction, he doesn’t think the paper does a sufficient job of proving they came from an injury before death.
In her death, she became a living individual,” Kappelman said. “I’m not a philosopher, I’m a scientist. But to me, it’s such a beautiful juxtaposition that by understanding her death, I now feel that I understand her life.
With respect, no, you don’t understand her life, Dr. Kappelman. But if we all feel so bad about stuff like that, we can give to a medical mission today. Lots of people who might survive injuries go without care in underserved areas of the world.
See also: Royal Society’s verdict on Piltdown hoaxer: It was Dawson
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