The Lucy Man
The Scientist Who Found the Most Famous Fossil Ever
By C. A. P. Saucier
(Prometheus Books, Paperback, 9781616144333, 128pp.)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Scientists dream of making a discovery that changes the way we think. That dream came true for Dr. Donald C. Johanson when he found the most famous fossil in history, Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis). It was 1974, in Ethiopia, and Johanson was just beginning his career as a paleoanthropologist. Finding the first skeleton of an upright-walking human ancestor that was mostly complete and well-preserved made the young anthropologist famous and changed what we know about human evolution. This revealing biography, written for a younger audience of school-age children, describes Donald Johanson’s remarkable life and career. After finding Lucy, Johanson went on to discover an entire group of Lucy’s species, called the First Family. He has also co-written nine books and narrated and hosted an Emmy-nominated television series. Today, he continues to give talks around the world, and remains dedicated to educating people about how we became human. In some quarters, evolution is a controversial topic and so Johanson has devoted much time to helping people understand that human evolution is how we are connected by nature to all other life on Earth. The author presents details of the scientist’s work, not just in regard to Lucy, but also other significant fossil finds, with up-to-date information on the most recent discoveries. In addition, she discusses his personal life, including his disagreement with the Leakey family and the regrettable damage it did to their friendship. As a longtime friend, the author had the opportunity to travel with Johanson and interview him on different continents, from America to Europe and Africa. For this book, he has freely answered questions and generously donated many of his own photographs to the project. Beautifully illustrated with numerous photographs of the anthropologist at every stage of his illustrious career, this book will teach students about the fascinating study of human evolution and inspire some to go on to make the next great discovery.
CAP Saucier (Cockeysville, MD) is a freelance artist, illustrator, and writer.