3.2-Million-Year-Old Human Ancestor Lucy Died By Falling Off A Tree

Posted: Aug 30 2016, 7:25am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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3.2-Million-Year-Old Human Ancestor Lucy Died by Falling off a Tree
This is Lucy, a 3.18 million year old fossil specimen of Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in 1974 in Ethiopia's Harar region. Lucy is the oldest, most complete specimen of an early human species, standing about 3 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing approximately 60 pounds. She is named Lucy after the well-known Beatles tune. Credits: John Kappelman, UT Austin & JENNY VAUGHAN/AFP/Getty Images
  • Did the Ancient Hominid Lucy Die by Falling Off a Tree?

3.18 million years old mystery is still there regarding the most famous human ancestor Lucy. Did the ancient hominid die by actually falling off a tree?

Scientists are now saying that Lucy, one of the most famous ancient ancestors of human beings ever found, may have died from falling off a tree. This claim has solid evidence to back it up.

Lucy is a skeleton that is 3.18 million years old. The title she has earned is Australopithecus afarensis. This stands for “Southern Ape of Afar”.

She happens to be the oldest of extant skeletons of erect hominids that once roamed about the earth. The discovery of Lucy occurred in 1974 in the Afar region in Ethiopia.

Though Lucy was a land-based biped, a controversy has raged since the beginning regarding her status as a tree dweller. It is indeed very strange that all the evidence is there yet no one is paying any heed to it.

The very fossil of Lucy shows that she probably died from falling off a tree. What more in the way of evidence does anyone need that she was an arboreal specimen. Lucy was studied in detail in 2008.

The UTCT, which is a machine designed to penetrate visually through substances such as rocks, was employed to examine Lucy’s petrified skeleton. This machine had a higher resolution than an ordinary CT Scan.

For a span of ten days, the researchers scanned Lucy’s incomplete skeleton in such a manner that the end result was 35,000 CT slices. One of them spoke of how Lucy was a precious find.

There was only one Lucy so she had to be carefully examined in order to discover more about the circumstances in which she and others of her kind lived so many years ago.

Since CT is a benign procedure and does not destroy the bone tissue, it was the ideal methodology of gaining more information regarding Lucy.

To see inside the bones of Lucy was an education in prehistoric circumstances. The humerus was fractured and the splintered bone fragments were very much visible.

Her hand hit the surface when Lucy hit the ground while falling from the tree. The signature fracture shows everything as clearly as the light of day.

A 3D printed model of Lucy was created in the process. She probably fell from a substantial height. The fact that she stretched out a hand in order to lessen the impact is evident.

Similar fractures in other places show that she must have suffered severe trauma from the fall. The question is how could she have reached so high on the tree unless she belonged to an arboreal species. The final conclusion that has been reached is that she was both terrestrial and arboreal.

The study got published in the journal Nature.

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