Who is Lucy the Australopithecus? Google Doodle reveals all

24 Nov 2015

Looking far back into our prehistoric past, today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 41st anniversary of the discovery of what – or who – became known as Lucy the Australopithecus, a 3.2m-year-old human ancestor with links to The Beatles.

The reason why we should ask who is Lucy the Australopithecus is of obvious importance given that the archaeologists who discovered the remains of what became known as Lucy in Ethiopia discovered something truly revolutionary to our understanding of what we are and where we came from.

Quite often in archaeology there have been incidents where a find has been described as the ‘missing link’ in human evolution, and this find was by-far one of the most important, as this specimen that dates back millions of years was the oldest-ever discovery of a bi-pedal primate.

Future Human

This, archaeologists Donald Johanson and Tom Gray said at the time, helped provide a timeline for the moment when homo sapiens began to appear for the first time.

Lucy gif 2

Given the amount of time that had passed, much of the skeleton of Lucy was lost to the ages, but Johanson and Gray were able to recover 47 bones, or 40pc of its total, which was just enough to help them piece together its place on our evolutionary chain.

As for what we know about Lucy and the species it was a part of, Australopithecus afarensis primates were believed to exist between three-to-four-million years ago, and they are believed to have been directly linked to the Homo genus’ earliest form, Homo habilis, 200,000 years ago.

The discovery’s connection with The Beatles, meanwhile, is due to the famous song Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds, which happened to be the song that was being played on repeat upon its discovery.

To recognise the discovery’s importance to our understanding of evolution, today’s Google Doodle by Kevin Laughlin animates the three major chapters in our species’ evolution to where we are today.

Model of Australopithecus afarensis adult male image via Tim Evanson/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic