Australopithecus afarensis Essay

Australopithecus - In November of 1973 an new discovery flipped the way we had imagined our ancestors as a whole Donald Johanson a graduate from

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In November of 1973, an new discovery flipped the way we had imagined our ancestors as a whole. Donald Johanson, a graduate from the University of Chicago, is credited with the discovery of the first Australopithecus afarensis fossil called AL 191-1. The fossil was a knee joint, consisting of a Distal Femur and Proximal Tibia from a single individual. Though not known at the time, this find is the first of hundreds found at the site located in Hadar, Ethiopia, more specifically the Middle Awash (see Fig. 1.1). French Geologist Maurice Taieb discovered the Hadar Formation in 1972. In 1973, he gathered a research group of 4 American and 7 French participants for the expedition. Toward the end of the first field season in November, Johanson kicked what he believed was yet another hippopotamus rib bone, only to find that it was actually a proximal tibia. Assuming it was only a monkey Tibia, he picked it up and began to take notes on it. While writing, he noticed another bone sticking out of the ground, he examined that it was a Femur, and found that the condyle pattern matched, and fit the two bones together. He was then able to determine that the fossils were of hominin origin since they inferred upright walking. This find was enormous, being the first evidence of upright walking of hominins from 3 million years ago. (Fig. 1.1 Middle Awash in Ethiopia’s Awash Depression) Despite all of the excitement, the discovery was belittled a year later by something greater. Little did they know, a gulley about 2 and a half kilometers away held the most epic paleoanthropological discovery ever made. Lucy, a 40% full skeleton of a female Australopithecus afarensis, was discovered on November 24, 1974. Credited with the discovery are 2 individuals also associated with the first field season . Donald Johanson, and his student Tom Gray, came cross an arm bone sticking out of the ground while searching a gulley impulsively, looking deeper, they found a pelvis, vertebrae, skull fragments, jaw fragments, ribs, and a thighbone. The next night after showing their discovery to their partners, they celebrated at their campsite, playing “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” by The Beatles; leading way to it’s the fossil’s new nickname. When they dug up the entire fossil, they realized that they had 40% of the hominin’s skeleton, a milestone in anthropology. They estimated the skeleton to be about 25
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This note was uploaded on 04/15/2008 for the course ANTH 100 taught by Professor Eighmey during the Fall '07 term at Palomar.

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Australopithecus - In November of 1973 an new discovery flipped the way we had imagined our ancestors as a whole Donald Johanson a graduate from

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