The 3.2-million-year-old bones of 'Lucy', the skeleton of the Australopithecus afarensis hominin discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, have undergone a complete high-resolution computed tomography scan. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have thereby created a digitized record that will allow the bones' internal structure to be examined (pictured below).
But interest from US museums in hosting an exhibition featuring the 40% complete skeleton is lagging, and officials say it will go into indefinite storage next month at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas.
A $2.25-million, five-month Lucy exhibition at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington, which closes on 8 March, is the second leg of what was originally planned to be a ten-city, six-year tour, although concerns were raised over the effects the tour would have on the delicate fossil (see Nature 444, 8; 2006). But total attendance at the Seattle exhibition is likely to be a third of the 250,000 projected, and no other museum has yet signed up for the exhibition.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Lucy In Cold Storage?
Posted by Michael J. Ryan, Ph.D. at 8:06 AM