Friday, February 13, 2009

Lucy In Cold Storage?

Quoting from Nature News:
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.