About Humankind


Lucy was found by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray on November 24, 1974, at Hadar in Ethiopia. Johanson spotted her forearm bone by chance during a surveying trip in the area. After two weeks of careful excavation, 40 percent of a single hominid skeleton had been discovered. (“Hominid” basically means a being in the ape/human family that walks upright.) She was identified as female based mainly on her size and other contextual evidence at Hadar, and has been classified in the species Australopithecus afarensis.

Lucy’s skeleton has been dated to just under 3.18 million years old, making her the oldest hominid ever discovered. Fossils can’t be dated directly, but the deposits in which they are found can now be dated with the 40Ar/39Ar (Argon-Argon) technique. This is added to other evidence, including the fossils themselves and the site where they were found, to produce a date.