Yves Coppens, one of the discoverers of the famous “Lucy” fossil find, is dead. According to his publisher, the renowned French paleontologist died on Wednesday at the age of 87 as a result of a long illness. In 1974 Coppens, together with Maurice Taieb and Donald Johanson, discovered the best-known human ancestor – Australopithecus afarensis – in Ethiopia.
The 3.2-million-year-old hominid, whose skeleton was unusually well preserved, was nicknamed “Lucy” after the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which they heard labeling the finds. In all, Coppens was a co-discoverer of six hominids over the course of his career. But he was always particularly proud of being one of “Lucy’s” dads.
Excavations during the holidays
“Even when I was six or seven I wanted to be an archaeologist,” the son of an astrophysicist, who was born in Brittany on August 9, 1934, once told the AFP news agency. “I spent my whole vacation time at excavations”. In 1956, at the age of 22, Coppens was admitted to the renowned French science center CNRS, from the 1960s he began expeditions in Africa, later he led excavations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Siberia, China and Mongolia.
In his native France, he headed the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, among other things, and became a member of the French Academy of Sciences. He has won several awards, served as an environmental advisor to the French government, and has written numerous books and more than a million scientific articles.
She lost a good friend and France “lost one of its great men,” Coppens’ publisher Odile Jacob said on Twitter. He was not only a great scholar, but also “a talented writer, storyteller and non-fiction author” who always succeeded in conveying the history of mankind to others in an exciting way.