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One of these vertebrae does not belong to Lucy (Image: Dave Einsel/Getty)

One of these vertebrae does not belong to Lucy (Image: Dave Einsel/Getty)

Well this is kind of embarrassing but inconsequential… Gary Sawyer and Mike Smith at the AMNH began a reconstruction of Lucy with help from Scott Williams from NYU and noticed that one of the vertebra fragments is smaller than the other!

A comparative study to other animal’s vertebrae show that it more closely resembles a baboon’s vertebrae.  This analysis will be presented at a meeting of the Paleoanthropology Society in San Francisco next week. The researchers confirm that the other 88 fossil fragments belonging to Lucy’s skeleton are correctly identified. And the mislabelled baboon bone fragment doesn’t undermine Lucy’s important place in the evolution of our lineage…. But how did this mistake persist since 1974?

There may be a simple reason no one noticed that Lucy’s remains included a baboon bone fragment… We just don’t study vertebrae enough.

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