Donald Johanson, Director, Institute of Human Origins, Speaks on "The Importance of Lucy"

Public Lecture, and Presentation of the Wilton Krogman Award, is Featured Part of Penn and Citywide Year of Evolution Programming

26 MARCH 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson has, over the course of an illustrious career, produced some of the field’s groundbreaking discoveries into humanity’s ancient, evolutionary past. Chief among his discoveries is the most widely known and thoroughly studied fossil find of the 20th century—the 3.2 million year old “Lucy” skeleton.

On Sunday, May 4th at 2 p.m. in the Harrison Auditorium at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Dr. Johanson offers a public lecture, “The Importance of Lucy.” Tickets to the talk are $15; $10 for Penn Museum members. Tickets can be purchased for both lecture and reception (cash bar) and book signing: $30; $25 Penn Museum members. All tickets include admission to Penn Museum, and the Museum’s newest exhibition, “Surviving: The Body of Evidence,” about the process of evolution.

Advance tickets are available through the Annenberg Box Office, (215) 898-3900, or online at

“The Importance of Lucy” is a featured event in Penn and Penn Museum’s Year of Evolution programming, which kicks off April 19 with the opening of Penn Museum's new exhibition, "Surviving: The Body of Evidence," and runs through May 2009

At the talk, the Museum will present Dr. Johanson with the Wilton Krogman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biological Anthropology. The Krogman Award was developed in memory of Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, former professor of physical anthropology (1947-1971) and founder of the Philadelphia Center for Research in Child Growth, now the W.M. Krogman Center for Research in Child Growth and Development. This will be the third presentation of the Award, first given in 2000 (Dr. F. Clark Howell) and again in 2004 (Dr Ralph Holloway).

Although the 20th century was peppered with important fossil hominid finds from both eastern and southern Africa, it was Dr. Johanson’s 1974 discovery of a 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil in Ethiopia that added a crucial piece of evidence to the puzzle of human evolution. Lucy, as the skeleton was called, represented a previously unknown human ancestor-­the species Australopithecus afarensis—and prompted an on-going debate and major revisions in our knowledge and understanding of the early phases of the human evolutionary past. The skeleton possessed an intriguing mixture of ape-like features such as a projecting face and small brain, but also characteristics we consider human such as upright walking. Lucy continues to be a “diadem in the crown” of hominid fossils and serves as an important touchstone for all subsequent discoveries.

Since his groundbreaking discovery of Lucy, Dr. Johanson has become one of the most visible and effective spokespersons for the scientific view of human origins. He has led field explorations in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Middle East, hosted and narrated the Emmy nominated PBS/NOVA series In Search of Human Origins, authored six books, and developed the award-winning science website Currently, he is the director of the Institute of Human Origins, a human evolution think tank that he founded, at Arizona State University.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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