Lucy’s fossil secretly scanned in Texas

Cover Image: Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old human ancestor,
is depicted in the Seattle exhibit featuring her fossilized
partial skeleton.

UPI, Science News

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 6 (UPI) — Archaeologists at the University of Texas at Austin were given a top secret look at Lucy, one of the world’s most famous fossils.

The 3.2 million-year-old hominid skeleton, found in Ethiopia in 1974, made a 10-day stop at UTA’s High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility in September after an eight-month exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences.

With guards standing close watch, UT scientists were allowed to make 35,000 computed tomography images of the ancient fossil. While U.S. researchers conducted a scan on the fossil in the 1970s, the new scans provide the first high-resolution data on the early human ancestor, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman newspaper said Friday. Read more.

When It Comes To Fossils, Only Houston Says “I Love Lucy”
Village Voice Media
By John Nova Lomax
Tuesday, Jan. 27 2009

When Lucy came to Houston’s Museum of Natural Science, she was a smash hit. Over 200,000 people came to see the 3.2 million year-old bones of the humanoid ape that (or is it who?) might have been an ancestor to each and every one of us.

The 2007 exhibit was such a triumph that it was held over for five months and even spawned something of a love-fest between government officials here and in Ethiopia.

So it was not without justification that officials at Lucy’s next stop, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, were wildly optimistic . The museum lavished money on Lucy, hiring a 24-hour security guard and forking over $500,000 to the Ethiopian government and a $200,000 fee to HMNS. All told, including costs for mounting an accompanying exhibit of Ethiopian history and anthropology, the Seattle museum spent $2.25 million.

And, according to the Seattle Times, it has been a disaster. In the annals of disastrous Seattle engagements, only Spinal Tap’s gig at Lindberg Air Force Base approaches Lucy’s stay.

Citing a Lucy-related shortfall of up to $500,000, the museum laid off eight percent of its workforce and froze the wages of those who remained on the payroll. Matching 401-K contributions have been suspended and unpaid days off have also been instituted. Spending her grandkids’ inheritance indeed…

The Seattle museum projected 250,000 visitors; only 60,000 have clicked through the turnstiles so far, and Lucy is contracted to hit the road in five weeks.

Pacific Museum president and CEO Bryce Seidl blamed the economy ($20.75 adult tickets are no easy sell in this market) and a stretch of miserable December weather for the fiasco. Valid excuses or not, other museums have taken note: museums in Chicago and Denver have backed away from dates with this antediluvian gold-digger. While Lucy was supposed to have traveled to ten cities over six years, Seidl now thinks she is headed home to Ethiopia some four years ahead of schedule.
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4 Responses to “Lucy’s fossil secretly scanned in Texas”


  1. 1 Hagos Jan 28th, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Lucy, stay in your country and we will visit you in Ethiopia”.

    The reasons why Lucy must stay in Ethiopia and the multiple risks:
    1. Tourist attraction for Ethiopian people (airlines, restaurants, taxis, bars, etc will benefit as a result).
    2. Stealing Lucy’s fossil and exchanging it for a forged one (might happen in the West)
    3. Airplane crash (might land on the ocean)
    4. Ultra violet ray could destroy the fossil.
    5. Transportation is also risks because of shaking and breaking the fossil .

  2. 2 salem Jan 28th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I’m so glad for the low turn out. The government/dictatorship of Ethiopia didn’t care for her safety as long as they get paid for shipping her. It is dangerous to move her around that’s why many prominent museums refused to have her. Shame on the government.

  3. 3 Fiker Feb 10th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Back in the land of LUCY it’s really annoying for Ethiopians as we are not even allowed to see the real LUCY! Before her trip to US they kept the real one in some vault and the replica was exhibited for the public. (If you asked, you will be told simply “for security reasons”!). And I don’t think we could get the one that we’ve sent intact…..it would’ve been better to sell her rather than shipping a fragile fossil.

  4. 4 Lucy Aug 20th, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Hello, its me !

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