by David Zhang
Lucy is the famous fossil of the female species Afarensis, and is the most complete set of fossils that scientists have for early humans. The importance of its discovery was not the age, or completeness, however, but the story it told us about the evolution of humans. Before Lucy was discovered, it was believed that humans had first learned to walk upright, then were able to gain intelligence. The fossil of Lucy shows otherwise. Lucy and her species were much more suited for walking upright that even we are, but their intelligence is many levels below ours.
A. Anamnesis, Afaarensis’s predecessor, had long existed, as they had previously discovered many scattered fossils that proved its existence. But the discovered facial remains were limited to jaws and teeth, while the newly reported fossil includes much of the skull and face, which were found in 2016. These fossils still weren’t fully complete, and the full processing and remodeling of took years to complete but allowed the scientists to develop a clean and precise model of the full face of the Anamensis. Afarensis, or Lucy’s species, evolved from the species of the recent fossil’s long-ago owner.
This discovery led to more than just the finding and modeling of the face of some random ancient species. The newly discovered skulls were dated to around 100,000 thousand years after Lucy. Previously, scientists had thought that the Anamensis had died out around the time that the Afarensis showed up, but they were proven wrong. The Anamensis had existed until way after the genesis of the Afarensis. The overlap helps scientists determine how the new species had evolved from the previous one. This brings up new questions about how Lucy’s, which scientists hope future discoveries and technology can answer.