Lucy Essay, Research Paper

When he was in high school, Donald Johanson was told by his guidance counselor to forget about going to college. The only son of a widowed immigrant mother who worked as a cleaning lady, Johanson had done so poorly on his SATs that the counselor did not believe he was capable of performing college-level work. Now, Dr. Donald C. Johanson is one of the world’s leading and America’s best known paleoanthropologists. (Ann Online)

His dramatic discovery, in 1974, of LUCY our oldest, most complete human ancestor sparked a controversial change in our view of human origins. The following year, again at the famous site of Hadar, Ethiopia, Johanson’s team made the unprecedented discovery of the fossilized remains of some 13 individuals. Believed to be the oldest evidence of human ancestors living in-groups, the National Geographic Society dubbed the fossils the First Family. (Ann Online)

He has dedicated 25 years to exploring, discovering and studying some of the most significant fossil finds ever made in the search of human origins. His field research has taken him to Tanzania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Jordan. (Shabbir)

Dr. Johanson’s official announcement of Lucy and the First Family in 1978, as the oldest and most primitive species in our ancestry, was an event that captured headlines, catapulted a young, relatively unknown American paleoanthropologist into international acclaim, and created a spirited, ongoing controversy among experts world wide. Known in scientific circles by the tongue-twisting scientific name of, Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy has become a household name and an ancestral ambassador to our intriguing and enigmatic beginnings. (Ann Online)

Widely acclaimed as a public speaker, Dr. Johanson provides entertaining and knowledgeable firsthand accounts of his discoveries. In captivating and well-illustrated presentations, he shares with his audiences the excitement of a new kind of paleoanthropology which has emerged over the last few years. He has spent his entire career looking for clues to questions which have puzzled scientists since Darwin: What made us human? When and why did we begin to walk upright? Why did we develop such astonishing mental powers? How different are we from the rest of the natural world? By approaching these questions from a variety of new directions, incorporating techniques borrowed from molecular biology, new methodologies in archeological excavation, and sociobiological studies of primates and hunter-gatherer societies Dr. Johanson provides new insights into the relationship of ancient man to his environment and our own origins. (Ann Online)

Dr. Johanson is a prolific author, having published nearly 100 scientific papers and several books. His first book, Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind, co-authored with Maitland Edey, won the American Book Award in Science (1981). His dedication to the popularizing of science has continued in Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution (with Edey, 1989) Lucy’s Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor (with J. Shreeve, 1989), and Journey from the Dawn (with K. O’Farrell, 1990) (Ann Online)

In February, 1994, Dr. Johanson hosted and narrated a landmark, three-part television series on human origins entitled IN SEARCH OF HUMAN ORIGINS for the distinguished PBS science program NOVA. By combining the science of paleoanthropology with exciting natural history footage, this series presents stunning insights into the world of our ancestors who lived aeons ago. Never before has the mystery and intricacy of our origins a subject of endless fascination been so clearly and compellingly presented in a television series. In the US alone, the series was seen by 21 million people, is frequently re-aired and now has been adapted by many schools in their science curriculum. A lavishly illustrated companion book co-written by Lenora Johanson and Blake Edgar accompanies the series and is entitled Ancestors: In Search of Human Origins. (Ann Online)

A respected scholar, Dr. Johanson received his MA and Ph.D in 1970 and 1974 from the University of Chicago, where he studied human paleontology. At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History he developed the distinguished Laboratory of Physical Anthropology. In 1981, he moved to Berkeley, California where he founded the internationally acclaimed, multidisciplinary center, Institute of Human Origins. (Ann Online)

Johanson’s field research has taken him to Ethiopia, Tanzania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. His field work at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, resulted in the 1986 discovery of a 1.8 million-year-old partial skeleton of Homo habilis, the first tool maker. Renewed field studies, over the last three years, at Hadar, Ethiopia, have led to the discovery of numerous human ancestor fossils which promise to be of great significance for better understanding of human evolution. (Ann Online)

Dr. Johanson is an Honorary Board Member of the Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and many other professional organizations. He is the recipient of several international prizes and awards including two honorary doctorates. His influential ideas on the origins of humankind were first presented at a Nobel Symposium on human origins in 1978, in Sweden. (Ann Online)

He believes the human species has a responsibility to the natural world and must seriously pursue a worldwide program to conserve and protect Planet Earth. From his studies of human origins, Dr. Johanson embraces the idea that “if we are the guardians of the past, we must also be guardians of the future.”(Ann Online)

1.) Ann Online

January, 1995

2) Donald C. Johanson, Ph.D. Profile

October, 1997

3.) Donald Johanson

Author: Alladitta Shabbir

Date Unknown

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