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04-Jun-2015 15:05

Along with the expedition’s co-director, the French geologist Maurice Taieb, Johanson and the rest of the field team spent the next several days scouring the Lucy discovery site.

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Feel good.” Johanson and Gray’s search turned up very little at first.

She “had a tiny brain,” Johanson later wrote in his 1981 book on Lucy, “and yet walked erect…here was an ape-brained little creature with a pelvis and leg bones almost identical in function with those of modern humans.” Equally remarkable was how old she was.

While the scientists couldn’t date the fossils directly, the age of the geological strata in the Hadar Basin indicated the Lucy skeleton was likely more than three million years old—far more ancient than other hominids.

“I felt a strong subconscious urge to go with Tom,” he later wrote.

“I felt it was one of those days…when something terrific might happen.” Ignoring the already scorching heat and the mountain of paperwork on his worktable, Johanson hopped in a Land Rover with Gray and made the four-mile journey to a gully on an ancient, dried out lakebed.

When pieced together, the small bits of brown bone painted a stunning picture of what Lucy would have looked like.