Books: Happy Hominid

LUCY: THE BEGINNINGS OF HUMANKIND

by Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey; Simon & Schuster; 409 pages

Time: Nov. 30, 1974. Scene: the bleached and arid Afar Triangle of Ethiopia. Nothing about the desert seemed auspicious. Yet Anthropologist Donald Johanson had a premonition that this would be no ordinary morning. Shortly afterward, his hunch was ratified. The day was not merely unusual; it was epochal.

After cataloguing some fossils, Johanson introduced a colleague to a section labeled Locality 162. They came across an arm bone, then other parts from the same creature. By happenstance,...

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