Skeletons in the room

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Associate Professor of Geosciences Dave Goodwin’s class Biodiversity Through Time enjoyed a visit today from Donald Johanson, world famous paleontologist and discoverer of “Lucy,” one of the earliest members of genus Australopithecus: A. afarensis.

Students and faculty were treated to the sight of Johanson waving a model femur, while his discussion wandered through human anatomy (plus a glimpse into the anatomies of pre-humans and apes), physics, geology, biology, paleoclimatology, and, of course, anthropology.

As he talked his way through millions of years of history, Johanson reminisced about his favorite fossil – and surprisingly enough, it wasn’t Lucy. His favorite specimen is actually a 3.2 million year old knee joint, from a member of the same group as Lucy. It was not only Johanson’s first fossil discovery in Africa, but it also was palpable evidence that Australopithecus afarensis was bipedal and walked upright.

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