New research from John Kappelman suggests that the australopithecine specimen known as Lucy, the famous find from the 1970s that put hominins on the map, died from a fall from a tree. Jen Viegas writes:
In order to assess Lucy's cause of death, Kappelman and his team studied her remains, which include parts of her skull, hand, axial skeleton, pelvis and foot. The scientists used computed tomographic scans to analyze these parts in detail, and then compared the findings to various documented clinical cases where the cause of death is clearly noted.
In addition to discovering that Lucy's cause of death is consistent with a fall from a high place — presumed to have been from a tall tree due to where her remains were found in the Afar region of Ethiopia — the fossil clues presented another key piece of evidence.
Fractures in Lucy's upper arms suggest that she stretched out her arms in an attempt to break her fall. This tells us that she was very much alive when she toppled to her demise, and did not die of a heart attack or from some other cause beforehand.
Somehow, given the important role that she has portrayed in the pantheon of human evolution, and the lightning rod she has been for creationists, it seems sad that she came to such an ignominious end. Oh well, we all have to die somehow.