The Earliest Ancestor of Man
In 1974, in the Hadar region of the East African republic of Ethiopia, fossilized hominid bones were found by a team headed by Donald Johanson of the US, that date back more than three million years. This new find was named Australopithecus afarensis. Although determined to be an adult female, she was curiously small in stature. In many aspects, she was similar to a chimpanzee. But, from her pelvic and leg bone characters, it appeared that she was able to walk on two legs.
The night that the research team made this important find the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was playing on the radio. Thus, they named this female "Lucy".
In 1992, Johanson returned to Hadar and discovered more fossils. Among them, was the skull of a male Australopithecus afarensis. Based on the new finds, paleoanthropologists were able to reconstruct the appearance of a male of this species.
In 1975, a team of archeologists, led by Mary Leakey, found fossilized footprints of three members of the Australopithecus afarensis species in volcanic ash that had been cooled and softened by rain, at Laetoli in the African republic of Tanzania. These footprints were estimated as having been made some 3.75 million years before present. These footprints provided direct evidence that Australopithecus afarensis walked upright on two legs, and created a general consensus among paleoanthropologists that this was the earliest ancestor of man.