Donald Johanson Videos

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This one is on the importance of teaching human evolution:

The discovery of Lucy:

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5 Responses

  1. Two errors in the second video.
    Lucy is not a mostly complete. The figure usually given is 40%.
    Nor does she have a knee though one can very easily reconstructed via mirroring.

  2. The videos are wonderful! I am especially pleased to hear Johanson’s comments about evolution — that the theory itself does not really threaten anyone’s religious beliefs, altho’ many people are afraid that learning about it will do so. When I taught anthropology, I noted to my students, who were extremely anxious on that score, that theories are convenient ways of organizing our knowledge, that all the information is not yet in and that, therefore, the theories will have to be revised in the future, and that’s the way science always works. So, in the meantime, they just had to learn to understand the theory as it stood — not necessarily BELIEVE it. That seemed to calm them down enough to carry on with the class.
    As for “Lucy,” her skeleton appears more than 40% complete because of bilateral symmetry — when a bone is missing is one side, it can be reconstructed, quite often, based on the part discovered for the other side. Is this what you mean by mirroring? As for the knee, Johanson found the lower part of the femur (thigh bone) and the upper part of the shin bone, so the only missing part is the patella (knee cap). Thus, the significant thing is that he could see that Lucy stood upright and could lock her knees, about 3 mya, unlike any modern ape or monkey, but like modern humans. That was quite revolutionary at the time.

  3. What a lurker was referring to, and that was a great catch by the way, is that we have the left femur and the right tibia of Lucy…

  4. Aha! So that tidbit he shows with the two bones fitting together so neatly was not as it seemed, eh?! Fascinating! He didn’t let on about that in the book I read, sneaky fellow! I had seen the bits of Lucy laid out on a table, but had not seen that two-bit knee before. Thank you for the info!
    So, how about the pelvis, now. Whose reconstruction do you tend to go with? Or do you take sides on that?

  5. The two bones he shows at the beginning, as clearly stated in the video, were found the previous year. He does mention this in Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. Lovejoy’s reconstruction is pretty good…

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