Friday, October 27, 2006

Lucy Not Coming To the Smithsonian

The famous fossil of Lucy is scheduled to tour the United States, but one place it won't be on display is the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
From Yahoo! News:

"Not only is it not going to come to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, it is our position that we don't think it should leave Ethiopia," museum spokesman Randall Kremer said Wednesday.

Smithsonian scientists feel certain objects, such as Lucy, are too valuable to travel and should remain in their homes, he said.

In announcing the plans to display the artifact, Ethiopian officials had listed Washington as a stop on Lucy's tour, though they didn't specify where in Washington the skeleton would go. The tour arrangements are being made by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and not all locations have been finalized.

The fossilized remains were discovered in 1974 in the remote, desert-like Afar region in northeastern Ethiopia. Lucy is classified as an Australopithecus afarensis, which lived in Africa between about 4 million and 3 million years ago, and is the earliest known hominid.

Most scientists believe afarensis stood upright and walked on two feet, but they argue about whether it had ape-like agility in trees. The loss of that ability would suggest crossing a threshold toward a more human existence.
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