Today’s Google doodle in Australia is all about Lucy. AL-288-1 or Dinkinesh is the closest thing we have to a primordial Eve, the mother to our race. She is a collection of several hundred yellowed fragments of bone, recovered in a wind blasted valley of Ethiopia on November 24th in 1974.
She is better known as Lucy after the Beatles song that played repeatedly each night on a tape recorder in the camp filled with French and American paleoanthropologists and geologists, Ethiopian students and assistants. But Dinkinesh is a far more beautiful name for the little grandmother as it means ‘You are marvellous’ in the language of the land she roamed in and presumably gave birth to her babies.
As a fossil ancestor, she is known to be the oldest we know of at 3.2 million years. After years of research in universities in America and France, she is now back home in Ethiopia.
Two of the most remarkable things about Lucy for me are the presence of knock knees which helped scientists decide that she was walking upright and the fact that her small ape-like skull proves that we had to walk upright before our brains got bigger and bigger.
Lucy’s children have progressed to the point that a reconstruction of her face from the cranium found is close enough to probably allow her group to recognise her from the photograph below. Not bad at all for a chimp sized, leaf, root and fruit eating, arthritic young lady of uncertain age.
We did good, Grandma! Happy finding you day!