Tag: Seattle

Will Lucy Get Some Love In The Virtual World?

By Boonsri Dickinson | February 10, 2009 12:14 pm

lucy.jpgWhen Lucy the famous australopithecine was on the way over to partake in a multi-city tour around the U.S.—her first ever sojourn outside of Ethiopia—scientists thought moving the 3.2-million-year-old hominid was senseless because traveling would injure her bones. Now that she’s finally here, lounging in Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, hardly anyone’s coming to see her.

One researcher who isn’t complaining about Lucy’s journey is John Kappelman, a University of Texas anthropologist—Lucy’s 10-day layover in his Austin-based lab gave him the chance to grab the first high-resolution CT scans of her.

At the High-Resolution X-ray Computed Tomography Facility, Kappelman placed all 80 bones onto “custom-built foam mounts” to hold them in place. Then he proceeded to run each of the bones through the high-energy X-ray scanner, working around the clock to scan all of Lucy’s bones to capture the microscopic details of her skeleton. The scans will help researchers answer some questions regarding Lucy’s lifestyle: Some think her bones—such as her long arms and curved toes and fingers—suggest she and her family spent time in trees, but others think the bones were just inherited from her tree-climbing ancestors, and that she spent more time on the ground. Kappelman will soon make his digital archive available to other researchers to search for the answers to figure out this period in pre-human history.

You can see Lucy too: Kappelman created a public Lucy Web site based on his detailed scan. And now that the pics are freely available online, will anyone get away with charging to see her live?

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Was Lucy A Brutal Brawler?
Discoblog: No Love For Lucy

Image: flickr/ MashGet

MORE ABOUT: CT scan, lucy, online, Seattle

No Love for Lucy: Hominid Fossil Put on a Good Show, But No One Came

By Boonsri Dickinson | January 28, 2009 4:45 pm

lucy.jpgLucy flew all the way from Ethiopia for nothing.

Seattle officials paid $2.25 million for the fossilized remains of the 3.2 million-year-old hominid known as Lucy to be on display at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center. The problem is that no one wanted to visit the world’s oldest and best preserved human fossil, even though this is the first time she has ever traveled outside of Africa.

So far, Lucy’s been in Seattle for 5 months, and only 60,000 people have visited the exhibit (officials had expected more like 250,000). As a result, the science center has lost half a million dollars, resulting in layoffs of 8 percent of its staff and a wage freeze.

Lucy was supposed to go on a six-year, 10-city tour. The event started out strong: Visitors in Houston loved Lucy so much that officials extended her stay for a few months. By the exhibit’s end, Houston’s museum had clocked in more than 170,000 visitors. But a poor turnout in Seattle is making museums cancel their plans. The Field Museum in Chicago has pulled out, and the Denver museum of Nature and Science was apparently worried that transporting Lucy might damage her fragile remains.

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MORE ABOUT: fossil, lucy, museums, Seattle

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