Lucy comes to Houston

Janet Babin Aug 28, 2007


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.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.