Re: Was Lucy a male?

Evan S. Brown (
29 Nov 1995 03:23:00 GMT

Jim Foley ( wrote:
: Here's an article someone posted to a mailing list I read. If true, it
: will cause quite a bit of rethinking. I admit to being somewhat
: skeptical.
: =========================================================
: Africa's Eve is found to be an Adam
: By Graeme O'Neill
: ---
: LUCY, the most celebrated of all hominid fossils, is actually a male,
: scientists announced this week after 25 years of research.
: Lucy's pelvic bones are far too small to accommodate a baby. And
: their orientation would have made it impossible for a baby to turn the
: corner from the uterus and line up with the home straight.
: Even in modern women, this sharp angle between the uterus and birth
: canal can make birth a tricky and painful affair.
: "Lucy is simply not built for giving birth," said Swiss anatomists Dr
: Martin Hausler and Dr Peter Schmid in the latest edition of the
: Journal of Human Evolution.
: It seems the African Eve, celebrated worldwide as the archetypal Dawn
: Mother, is actually an Adam 3.2 million years old.
: It is a quarter century since American scientist Donald Johansen and
: his French colleague Maurice Taieb discovered the remarkably preserved
: fossil skeleton in Ethiopia. It is of a small, short-legged hominid.
: The fossil is the oldest species of the proto- human genus
: Australopithecus- the finders named it Australopithecus afarensis and
: nick- named it Lucy after the character in a Beatles' song, Lucy In
: The Sky With Diamonds.
: Lucy's skeleton was about two-thirds complete - against the odds, the
: body was overlooked by scavenging hyenas and lions and was buried
: rapidly by volcanic ash in the Great Rift Valley before the elements
: could disperse the bones.
: Even some of the tiny bones from the hands and fingers were preserved
: but the right half of the pelvis was missing.
: The left side of the pelvis and part of the sacroiliac, which anchors
: the spinal column, was enough to tell anatomists that Lucy was no
: recent fugitive from the rainforests of east Africa, which were in
: retreat as the climate cooled and became drier.
: The legs were short in proportion to the trunk and the pelvis was
: relatively narrow. The femurs-the major bones in the top of the
: legs- projected almost straight down from their pelvic sockets,
: rather than angling in under the body's centre of gravity.
: But they didn't splay outwards, in the manner of a chimpanzee or
: gorilla.
: The evidence was clear-Lucy-had walked upright. "Waddled" may be
: closer to the mark - the pelvic anatomy was not designed for the
: curving hips and fluid stride of latter- day great-granddaughters on a
: Paris catwalk.
: A widely published artist's impression of Lucy depicts the creature as
: dark-skinned and hairy with a protruding, ape-like face, large breasts
: (an evolutionary innovation in humans) and with a baby balanced on the
: right hip.
: But even for a prototype, whose architecture had yet to be refined and
: broadened to create a birth canal large enough to accommodate one of
: the boof-headed, large-brained babies of homo sapiens descendants,
: Lucy's pelvis seemed to be strangely shaped.
: For a quarter of a century anatomists have debated various mirror-
: image reconstructions of Lucy's incomplete pelvis and come to
: different conclusions.
: The pelvis is one of the most critical structures in human evolution.
: Not only is it crucial to an upright stance, as the fulcrum for the
: spine and legs; its lower bones and pubis, dictate the maximum size
: of the head and brain of any newborn baby.
: An enormous brain and head, in relation to body size, is the defining
: characteristic of modern human beings.
: Earlier research which showed measurements of Lucy's pelvic dimensions
: were unreliable because after millions of years the pelvis had become
: skewed. In their new reconstruction, Dr Hausler and Dr Schmid
: corrected for this distortion, then compared Lucy's pelvic
: architecture with that of one of the more recent descendants, a
: specimen of Australopithecus africanus from Sterkfontein Cave in South
: Africa, designated by the serial number S14.
: Lucy, designated by the serial number AL-288-I, is separated from S14
: by almost the length of a continent and by several hundred thousand
: years of evolution.
: The interval was long enough for S14's species to develop the largest
: brain of any australopithecine around 580cc, compared with Lucy's
: 350cc brain.
: Dr Hausler and Dr Schmid say that in non-human primates, including
: chimpanzees and gorillas, the brain of newborns is about 42 per cent
: the capacity of the adult brain.
: But in newborn humans, it is only 29 per cent of the average adult
: capacity of about one litre-roughly 290cc. Much of the growth in a
: modern human baby's brain is delayed until after birth. This is why
: the bones in a human baby's skull remain open for several years after
: birth.
: This innovation, unique to humans, allows the adult human brain to
: become very large without exposing homo sapiens babies to the fatal
: prospect of being jammed inside the pelvis at birth. It still happens
: before caesarean births, natural selection ensured neither mother nor
: baby survived to pass on the trait.
: The Swiss researchers now propose that Lucy be renamed Lucifer, after
: the Roman god who brought light to the world after a long, dark night.
: (O'Neill G., "Africa's Eve is found to be an Adam", Sunday Times:
: Western Australia, 12 November 1995, p62)
: ============================================================
: Jim (Chris) Foley,
: Assoc. Prof. of Omphalic Envy Research interest:
: Department of Anthropology Primitive hominids
: University of Ediacara (Australopithecus creationistii)


hausler and schmid must remind themselves that it is NOT a modern head that
would have fit through Lucy's pelvis, nor was it an Africanus, nor anything but
an A. Afarensis. 29% of lucy's brain WOULD have fit through her pelvis.

evan s. brown