The Lucy Fossil

Rerun. It took over three million years to find her. But palaeontologists Donald Johanson and Tom Gray uncovered the remains of ‘the Lucy Fossil’ - a previously undiscovered species of pre-human - in Hadar, Ethiopia on 24th November, 1974.

Despite the find’s massive significance, the event was not greeted with untrammelled joy by all their rival fossil hunters. Some - who had wanted to claim such a discovery for themselves - began publicly disputing that Lucy was indeed a missing link in the evolution of humankind.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal how Lucy received her rock n’ roll name; explain how her tiny brain but upright walking turned previous scientific thinking on its head; and consider whether, actually, “Captain Caveman was quite accurate”...

Further Reading:

• ‘Nov. 24, 1974: Humanity, Meet Lucy. She's Your Mom’ (WIRED, 2009):

• ‘Lucy and the Leakeys’ (Khan Academy):

• ‘Donald Johanson: Discovering the Fossil “Lucy”’ (Freedom From Religion Foundation, 2014):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

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