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Lucy

Lucy (also given a second (Amharic) name: dinqineš, or “Dinkenesh,” meaning “You are beautiful” or "you are wonderful") is the common name of AL 288-1, several hundred pieces of bone representing about 40% of the skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensis.
The specimen was discovered in 1974 at Hadar in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia's Afar Depression.

Lucy is estimated to have lived 3.2 million years ago. The discovery of this hominid was significant as the skeleton shows evidence of small skull capacity akin to that of apes and of bipedal upright walk akin to that of humans, providing further evidence that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size in human evolution. In 1994, a new hominid, Ardi, was found, pushing back the earliest known hominid date to 4.4 million years ago, although details of this discovery were not published until October 2009.

Discovery
French geologist, Maurice Taieb discovered the Hadar Formation in 1972. He then formed the International Afar Research Expedition (IARE), inviting Donald Johanson, an American anthropologist, and Founding Director of the Institute of Human Origins of Arizona State University, Mary Leakey, a British archaeologist, and Yves Coppens, a French born paleontologist now based at the Collège de France to co-direct the research. An expedition was formed with four American and seven French participants, and in the autumn of 1973 the team surveyed Hadar, Ethiopia for fossils and artifacts related to the origin of humans.

In November 1973, near the end of the first field season, Johanson noticed a fossil of the upper end of a shinbone, which had been sliced slightly on the front. The lower end of a thighbone was found near to it, and when he fitted them together the angle of the knee joint clearly showed that this fossil, reference AL 129-1, was an upright walking hominid. Over three million years old, the fossil was much older than any others known at the time. The site lay about two and a half kilometres from the site at which they subsequently found "Lucy".

The team returned for the second field season in the following year and found hominid jaws. Then, on the morning of November 24, 1974, near the Awash River, Johanson abandoned a plan to update his field notes and joined graduate student, Tom Gray from Texas State, in taking their Land Rover to Locality 162 to search for bone fossils.

Both Donald Johanson and Tom Gray spent a couple of hours on the increasingly hot arid plains, surveying the dusty terrain, then Johanson decided on a hunch to make a small detour on their way back to the Land Rover to look at the bottom of a small gully that had been checked at least twice before by other workers. At first sight there was virtually no bone in the gully, but as they turned to leave, a fossil caught Johanson's eye; an arm bone fragment lying on the slope. Near it lay a fragment from the back of a small skull. They noticed part of a femur (thighbone) a few feet (around 1m) away. As they looked further, they found more and more bones on the slope, including vertebrae, part of a pelvis indicating that the fossil was female, ribs, and pieces of jaw. They marked the spot and returned to camp, excited at finding so many pieces apparently from one individual hominid.

In the afternoon, everyone on the expedition was at the gully, sectioning off the site and preparing for careful collection which eventually took three weeks. That first evening they celebrated at the camp, staying up all night, and at some stage during the evening the fossil AL 288-1 was nicknamed Lucy, after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", which was being played loudly and repeatedly on a tape recorder in the camp.

Over the three weeks, several hundred pieces or fragments of bone were found, with no duplication, confirming their original speculation that they were from the one skeleton. As the team analyzed the fossil further, they calculated that an amazing 40% of a hominin skeleton had been recovered, an astounding accomplishment in the world of anthropology. Usually, only fossil fragments are discovered; rarely are skulls or ribs found intact. Johanson considered it was female based on the one complete pelvic bone and sacrum indicating the width of the pelvic opening.[4] Lucy was only 1.1 m (3 feet 6 inches) tall, weighed 29 kilograms (65 lb) and looked somewhat like a Common Chimpanzee, but although the creature had a small brain, the pelvis and leg bones were almost identical in function with those of modern humans, showing with certainty that these hominids had walked erect. Under an agreement with the government of Ethiopia, Johanson brought the skeleton back to Cleveland where it was reconstructed by Owen Lovejoy. It was returned according to agreement some 9 years later. Lucy as a fossil hominin significantly captured public notice, becoming almost a household name at the time.

Further discoveries of A. afarensis specimens occurred during the 1970s, giving anthropologists a much better appreciation of the range of variability and ual dimorphism of the species.