Professor Donald Johanson, founding director of The Institute of Human Origins (IHO) at Arizona State University, discovered the 3.2 million year old hominid skeleton popularly known as "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis) in Ethiopia in 1974. She has become an icon in this field of study and remains an important touchstone for scholars and lay-people alike for understanding our beginnings. This famous discovery forever changed our understanding of human origins.
Dr. Johanson's talk focuses on how paleoanthropological field work over the last 30 years has established the continent of Africa as the crucible for human evolution.
Donald C. Johanson
Donald C. Johanson is the director of the Institute of Human Origins. For the past 30 years he has conducted field and laboratory research in paleoanthropology. Most notably, he discovered the 3.18 million year old hominid skeleton popularly known as "Lucy." Through grants from the National Science Foundation, the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the National Geographic Society, Johanson has carried out field research in Ethiopia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Tanzania. He is an Honorary Board Member of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of many other professional organizations and recipient of several international prizes and awards. In 1975, Dr. Johanson was appointed curator of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and, beginning in 1976, developed a laboratory of physical anthropology that attracted scholars from all over the world.
He has written, among other books, the widely read Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind (with Maitland Edey) in 1991, and numerous scientific and popular articles. In 1994, he co-wrote Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins and narrated a companion NOVA television series seen by more than 100 million people worldwide. He has also published From Lucy to Language (with Blake Edgar, principal photography by David Brill), 1996, and most recently, Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins (with Kate Wong), 2009. Johanson is a frequent lecturer at universities and other forums in the United States and abroad.
Professor Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist responsible for unearthing the first known remains of Australopithecus afarensis, describes how his discovery ended up with the name "Lucy." Johanson explains that what started out as an off-the-cuff suggestion, ended up securing the fossil a place in popular culture.