Lucy’s back
(Credit: Scott Williams)

As part of ongoing work on vertebral number evolution in primates and other animals, Dr. Scott Williams and colleagues have undertaken a reanalysis of the vertebrae in Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis). Discovered over 40 years ago, the “Lucy” speciman remains one of the most complete early hominin skeletons ever found, and a key player in our understanding of hominin evolution. There findings so far have suggested that at least one vertebra from the original find is from a different species, and that Lucy’s vertebrae reject a “long-backed” ancestral condition.