The ultimate backstory: Dr. Donald Johanson and Kate Wong on Lucy's Legacy


This week Random House released Lucy's Legacy: the Quest for Human Origins by Dr. Donald Johanson and Kate Wong, and I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing it on Gary's nightstand in the near future. Gary's fascination with all things ancient has led us on some great adventures and sparked many thinky thoughts about the humanity of art and the art of humanity. In the fall of 2007, I blogged about seeing Lucy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Aside from the wonder of the discovery, I was taken with the idea that a single moment could blossom into a life's work. It's been thirty-five years since the discovery of Lucy, and Johanson is still learning. Still evolving.

From the press kit:
In his New York Times bestseller, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, renowned paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson told the incredible story of his discovery of a partial female skeleton that revolutionized the study of human origins. Lucy literally changed our understanding of our world and who we come from. Since that dramatic find in 1974, there has been heated debate and–most important–more groundbreaking discoveries that have further transformed our understanding of when and how humans evolved.

In Lucy’s Legacy, Johanson takes readers on a fascinating tour of the last three decades of study–the most exciting period of paleoanthropologic investigation thus far. In that time, Johanson and his colleagues have uncovered a total of 363 specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy’s species, a transitional creature between apes and humans), spanning 400,000 years. As a result, we now have a unique fossil record of one branch of our family tree–that family being humanity–a tree that is believed to date back a staggering 7 million years.

Look for Lucy's Legacy in bookstores this week. And look for Lucy in the mirror tomorrow morning.

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