World Renowned Paleoanthropologist Speaks About "The Importance of Lucy" at Public Lecture and Booksigning
05 MAY 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—On Sunday, 04 May 2008, more than 350 people were on hand to hear world renowned paleanthropolologist Dr. Donald Johanson speak--and receive Penn Museum's Wilton Krogman Award.
In recognition of his groundbreaking discoveries and continued impact on the field of paleoanthropology, Dr. Richard Hodges, Williams Director of Penn Museum, presented Dr. Johanson with the Wilton Krogman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biological Anthropology.
Director of the Institute of Human Origins, Dr. Johanson is best known as the discoverer of "Lucy," the 3.2 million year-old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton. Following his illustrated talk,"The Importance of Lucy," Dr. Johanson signed copies of his most recent book, From Lucy to Language, and the revised edition of his early publication Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind.
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 becominghuman.org. Currently, he is the director of the Institute of Human Origins, a human evolution think tank that he founded, at Arizona State University.
Penn Museum’s Krogman award, developed to recognize scientists in the field of biological anthropology, was created to honor the memory of Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, former Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania (1947-1971), and founder, in 1947, of the Philadelphia Center for Research in Child Growth (now the W. M. Krogman Center for Research in Child Growth and Development). Dr. Krogman was an internationally-recognized authority in child development whose additional achievements ranged from paleoanthopological studies elucidating human immigrations to Europe via western Asia, to developing the “Philadelphia Growth Standards” used in evaluating the growth status of children and youths.
Dr. Johanson is the third recipient of the award. The first award was granted to physical anthropologist Dr. F. Clark Howell in April 2000. Dr. Ralph Holloway, a paleoanthropologist specializing in brain evolution in relation to behavior, was the second recipient in February 2004.
A bronze plaque recognizing Wilton Krogman awardees is outside the Biological Anthropology Laboratory in the Department of Anthropology.
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 http://www.penn.museum.