ASU In the News

Lucy, Ida fossils headline New York City exhibit


<p>It has been 35 years since Don Johanson, a professor of paleoanthropology in <st1:placename w:st="on">Arizona</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">State</st1:placetype> <st1:placetype w:st="on">University</st1:placetype>’s <st1:placetype w:st="on">School</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Human Evolution</st1:placename> and Social Change, discovered “Lucy” in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Hadar</st1:city>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Ethiopia</st1:country-region></st1:place>. The major find, a 3.2 million-year-old hominid fossil, sent shockwaves through the scientific community and spurred a flurry of global attention. In the years since, Lucy has remained a major player in the continuing quest to understand human origins and evolution.  </p><p>Now, another significant fossil find has joined the evolutionary pantheon. Introduced earlier this year by Jørn H. Hurum of the Oslo University Natural History Museum, “Ida” is a remarkably preserved 47 million-year-old female mammal that is making international headlines, much as Lucy did over three decades ago. </p><p>Considered the oldest, most complete primate fossil, Ida – with opposable thumbs, forward-facing eyes and big toes – is a crucial tool for investigating the earliest phases of primate evolution. The near-pristine condition of the fossil makes it particularly useful. Ida's remains were entombed in sedimentary layers that split into two rock plates, each containing portions of the body structure. Plate A shows Ida’s hands, feet and tail, and Plate B includes Ida’s teeth, jaws and even stomach contents.</p><p>Clearly, Lucy and Ida have much in common. They are icons of evolution, sources of academic debate, well-preserved shoots on humankind’s family tree. And soon they will be costars of a sort.</p><p>The authentic Lucy and Ida (Plate B) fossils will share the stage in the upcoming “Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia,” a major exhibit arriving June 24 at the new Discovery Times Square Exposition in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New York City</st1:place></st1:city>. This will be the first public viewing of Ida (Plate B); Ida (Plate A) is currently displayed in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Oslo</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">University</st1:placetype> <st1:placename w:st="on">Natural</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">History</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Museum</st1:placetype></st1:place>. </p><p>Lucy, who is normally housed in a specially constructed safe in the Paleoanthropology Laboratories of the National Museum of Ethiopia, is on a North American Tour that previously stopped at the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the <st1:placename w:st="on">Pacific</st1:placename> <st1:placename w:st="on">Science</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Center</st1:placetype> in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Seattle</st1:place></st1:city>. A cast of Lucy’s bones are on permanent exhibit at ASU’s <st1:placetype w:st="on">Institute</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Human Origins</st1:placename> in the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">College</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Liberal Arts</st1:placename></st1:place> and Sciences. Don Johanson is the institute’s founding director.</p><p>“Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia” will run through October 25, 2009.</p>

Article Source: PR Web
Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change

480-727-6577