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Lucy comes to Houston

A scientist points at part of 12 hominid fossils belonging to a partial skeleton unearthed in 2005 not far from the Lucy site in northeastern Ethiopia. The bone is believed to be the world's oldest bicept skeleton to be unearthed so far, dating between 3.8 and 4 million years old.

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Scott Jagow: There was another huge discovery in Africa in 1974. Scientists found the bones of a woman in Ethiopia. The bones were 3 million years old. They named her Lucy, after a famous Beatles song they were listening to at the time. Well Lucy just arrived in Houston. She'll go on display later this week at a Houston museum, but not everyone is happy about this. Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Public Radio.


Janet Babin: The Ethiopian government is hoping the Lucy exhibit raises cash for future projects. Museums hope Lucy's star power will bring paying bodies through their doors.

But some paleontologists are upset that the fragile fossil is going public. They say her schedule will make her unavailable for research, and they worry she could be damaged during her six-year tour.

Duke biology professor Greg Wray says the exhibit could help raise awareness about science, but he wonders where the money from the exhibit will end up.

Greg Wray: The fossils that have been found there are the heritage of the entire country and I don't think it has to go into research but it would be reasonable to expect that that money ends up benefiting the average Ethiopian and not just going into the pockets of the regime.

Financial terms between the Ethiopian government and the Houston Museum have not been disclosed.

The Lucy remains have no other confirmed dates in the U.S. Reports say the exhibit could appear in New York, Chicago and Denver.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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