Scientists have discovered how Lucy really died, and it wasn't pretty.
Scientists may have just cracked the oldest cold case in history. It’s been four decades since Lucy was first discovered, an early human history from 3.2 million years ago, and now scientists may have figured out how she met her end.
By examining high-resolution CT scans of her right shoulder, which has broken bones, as well as some damage elsewhere on the skeleton, researchers believe that a fall from a tree may have caused Lucy’s death, according to University of Texas statement.
Researchers documents a pattern of fractures that are common in falls from a great height, ones you wouldn’t see if, say, someone simply toppled over. Scientists published their paper in the journal Nature, arguing that Lucy probably fell from a tree and landed hard on her feet, and then pitched forward violently as she extended her arms to break her fall. Her hands hitting the ground probably caused this debilitating compression fracture seen in her shoulder, as well as causing other bones in the body to break and probably severely damaging her organs. It would have been a quick and gruesome end for Lucy.
“It is ironic that the fossil at the center of a debate about the role of arborealism in human evolution likely died from injuries suffered from a fall out of a tree,” said lead author John Kappelman, a UT Austin anthropology and geological sciences professor. “This compressive fracture results when the hand hits the ground during a fall, impacting the elements of the shoulder against one another to create a unique signature on the humerus.”