Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering The Mystery Of Where We Came From

Catherine Thimmesh

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009


It is one of the world’s most delightful mysteries. Who are we? Where did we come from? What did the earliest humans look like? How did they live? In Lucy Long Ago, Catherine Thimmesh tells the story of one of the world’s most exciting – and unsettling – paleontological discoveries. When scientists working in Ethiopia found a full skeleton of a tiny hominid (the group of bipedal primates to which humans belong), it called into question much of what we thought we knew about our distant ancestors. This book tells the story of finding Lucy (the skeleton was named after the Beatles song “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”) and what scientists learned from the discovery. It also provides a glimpse into the world of paleontology, demonstrating how paleontologists work and how they draw conclusions from the bones they find.

While the book itself is an enlightening narrative of scientists doing their thing, there is also a brief description of the scientific method and a useful explanation of the scientific use of the word ‘theory.’

Lucy Long Ago is so well written that even the difficult scientific concepts read easily. Even so, the science is lightened with charming details, such as the fact that the man who discovered Lucy packed the precious bones in toilet paper and placed them in a carry-on bag for the plane trip back to his lab in Cleveland, Ohio.