It's hard not to be awed by Lucy. Even though she only stood a meter high and weighed less than 60 pounds, she is 3.2 million years old, and that's no small thing. She's not the oldest fossil skeleton found; Ardi is 4.4 million years old, and was also found in Ethiopia. But looking at Lucy makes you realize something: we all come from the same source, we all were once more apelike with dark skin, and we all matter.
It's hard not to think of Lucy and who she was, how she spent her days, whether her people grieved her death. It's also hard not to think about how hard we try to be different from others, to stand out as individuals. Yet, here we are, 7 billion of us--not that much different from Lucy. We have families, we wander in groups, we wonder about our next meal, we give birth and care for our young, we feel scared and unsafe, we feel pleasure, we die.
I don't know if Lucy felt love; I imagine she felt connection to others, though. She didn't have cars or cell phones or Japanese coffee grinders or online shopping. But she had the security of groups of others around her and the rhythm of her days, eating, communicating, touching, holding. She didn't know that one day her ancestors would be staring into a case at her bones, finding a connection over millions of years. Lucy reminds us that, in the end, we are all one.
Lucy can be seen at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.