'Lucy' fossil returns home in Ethiopia

    7:05 AM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (CBS) -- A famous fossil that holds key to scientific evidence of human evolution returned home in Ethiopia Wednesday after a five-year tour activity abroad.

    Discovered by an archaeological team led by U.S. scientist Donald C. Johanson in 1974, the fossil was then confirmed to have represented 40 percent of a skeleton of an individual Australopithecus afarensishave that has lived 3.2 million years ago. The well-known name of Lucy came from a Beatles song "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" as the song was then played to celebrate the fossil's discovery.

    "I think Lucy's message to humanity is really that we all have a common origin. We have a common beginning and a common ancestor. We are united by our past," said Professor Donald C. Johason, Lucy's discoverer.

    The fossil began its tour exhibition in 11 cities of the United States starting from July 2007, a move that aroused much disputes and worries as the transportation of the precious and fragile items could lead to unrecoverable damage. At the press conference Wednesday, the pieces of bones were kept in two closed black boxes, and once again stirred curiosity on its protection. Clarifying the doubts, Ethiopian scientist Zeresenay Alemseged, who has been in company with Lucy during its five-year trip abroad, said that Lucy has been kept very well.

    "I am very aware that they sent security from Ethiopia, but that has been supported by local security from the United States, but also she was always surrounded by professionals. So I'm confident that she was secured both from the protection point of view and also the security point of view," said Zeresenay Alemseged.

    Meanwhile, another Ethiopian scientist said that the tour exhibition of Lucy has publicized the country's name and promoted the development of Ethiopia.

    "When we sent Lucy out for a long visit, we felt a sense of emptiness here. So it is a big sacrifice that we paid. Thank you very much for everything you have done, and we appreciate Donald C. Johanson again for finding her, promoting her. With the promotion of Lucy, he promoted Ethiopia," said Dr. Berhane Asfaw, an Ethiopian scientist.

    For concerns of protection, Lucy wasn't immediately shown to the media and public upon its arrival home Wednesday. Starting from next Tuesday, the famous fossil will greet audience along with another 148 historical relics at the Ethiopian National Museum, and will be present at the 50th anniversary of the African Union.

    "African heads of state would come here for the 50 golden Jubilee of the African Union. We would take that advantage to show that we are the origin of mankind that needs further study and research," said Amin Abdulkadir, Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism.

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