Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG - 9/21/2006 - Renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson announced to the world the historic discovery of a 3.3 million year old pre-human skeleton during a visit to UCM Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Announcement Receives Worldwide Coverage
Johanson, who is known for the history 1974 discovery of "Lucy," an adult female Austraolpithecus afarensis that lived about 3 million years ago, made the announcement Wednesday morning as he signed copies of his latest book, the second printing of From Lucy to Language.
He also discussed the discovery during a press conference and evening public lecture on the UCM campus. As Johanson made announcement at UCM, the story was being released by media around the world.
Ethiopian Anthropologist Makes Historic Discovery
The discovery was made in 2000 by Zerensenay Alemseged, an Ethiopian anthropologist who completed post-doctoral study with Johanson. The new find, believed to be the fossilized skeletal remains of a three-year-old, nicknamed "Lucy's Baby," was discovered less that 4 kilometers from the site where Lucy was discovered in Eastern Africa.
During a Sept. 20 public lecture on the UCM campus,
paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson discussed the
recent historic discovery of "Lucy's Baby," a 3.3
million year old skeleton of a human ancestor.
Large Audience Attends Lecture
During his evening presentation to a large crowd in the university's Hendricks Hall, Johanson related personal experiences, including his own introduction to anthropology as a youth. He is the founder and chairman of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University.
Tracing the History of Mankind
Johanson traced the history of mankind as documented through paleoanthropologic study and explained the importance of paleoanthropology to the full understanding of mankind's history, as well as its potential effect on the future of the species.
Discoveries Important to Future of the Species
As he completed his presentation, he explained the importance of the discoveries of Lucy and Lucy's Baby to the ongoing study of mankind.
"A find like this speaks again to our common origins as human beings," he said. "I am convinced that all humans share a common ancestry and origin in Africa."
Alumni Connections Makes Visit Possible
Johanson's visit to the university was made possible through his longstanding friendship with UCM alumnus Steve Jenne, who made the initial invitation to Johanson.
John Sheets, chair of UCM's Department of History and Anthropology, chaired the planning committee that began preparations six months ago for the visit. The announcement Wednesday of the discovery of Lucy's baby was an unexpected and exciting surprise for the UCM campus community.
"I am overwhelmed," Sheets said. "This is a significant find and one likely to have a major impact on our understanding of human origins."
Detailed Coverage Forthcoming
A detailed analysis of the discovery appears in the current issue of the science journal Nature. The find also will be featured as the cover story in the next issue of National Geographic.