28 November 2008
I'd like to put in a plug for my old stomping grounds, the Pacific Science Center. This is old news to most of you, I imagine, but PSC is currently hosting 'Lucy's Legacy.' Lucy is, of course, the best-preserved skeleton known of the early hominid Australopithecus and is the most famous fossil in the world. This fame is well-deserved; while Lucy is physically not particularly large, she is a titanic figure in the story of human evolution; without her, much of what we know about our early ancestors could never have been learned. What the Rosetta Stone, the Declaration of Independence, or the Dead Sea Scrolls are to our history, Lucy is to our prehistory. In fact, in being quite literally unique, she may eclipse any man-made artifact in significance. I'm posting this little soliloquy not just because I'm still a bit giddy from having had the privilege to see a fossil of such stature, but to encourage any of you who have the means to get to Seattle before March 8th to do so. Unless you plan to make a habit of visiting Ethiopia (a plan that is sadly impractical for most of us), this is most likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. No doubt many of you will think I am blowing this out of proportion because I am myself a paleontologist that is easily excited by this sort of thing. This may be somewhat true, but regardless of your opinions on fossils, it is not everyday a key figure in humankind's heritage is deposited for a few months right in our own backyard, and it would be a shame for anyone to pass up the chance to see Lucy in person.