Sunday, September 24, 2006
Selam - An exclusive interview with the man who discovered the oldest child in the world ('Lucy's Child')
She was three years old when she died. Flood waters tore through the forest, separating mother from child. Guttural cries of alarm echoed in the lush canopy. Possibly. There was nobody there to record her death. The body sank to the bottom of the water, out of sight of predators, and was covered over by stones and sand. The riverbed turned to rock eventually, and so did her bones.
The child lay buried for a very long time. More than three million years, until a Sunday afternoon in December six years ago when strangers came looking for bodies. By then the forest had long disappeared. The hillside was a dry, rocky, hostile place. The heat was ferocious. A boot stirred the dust. Its owner looked down and saw a portion of bone, half-buried.
'A cheekbone was sticking out of the sand,' says the young Ethiopian who found her, Dr Zeresenay Alemseged (Zeray, as his friends call him). He was looking because that has been his life's work, driven by an obsession with finding the remains of all our ancient ancestors in the country of his birth. [Australopithecus afarensis, Southern Ape, Interview, Lucy]
Also see "Scientists Find 'Lucy' Species Skeleton (3.3 million-year-old girl fossil)" (based on a Washington Post article)
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