Yves Coppens

Lucy's Knee Publication date : April 1, 2000

After examining Lucy's knee, the team of researchers working with Yves Coppens first realised that pre-humans, who were undoubtedly bipeds, were nonetheless climbers.The author reviews the history of early humans, giving dates and locations in the light of the most recent research. He paints a highly original, lively picture, while illustrating the extraordinary progress that has been made during the past forty years in the fields concerned with the study of early human beings. Yves Coppens himself began his professional life a little over forty years ago. He was present and actively participated in all the major findings in Africa and Asia during those years, including the discovery of the renowned Lucy, who has inspired so many works'both scientific and whimsical (the Lucy effect, the Lucy complex, the Lucy syndrome). Coppens was thus in a privileged position to recount the story of the discovery of Lucy, a unique scientific and human adventure. The author has structured his review of the past forty years into three periods: the cautious early "pioneering years", followed by the "mad years" when major discoveries were made, and culminating in the present "years of inheritance" dominated by great technical progress although fewer discoveries are being made. Yves Coppens teaches at the Collège de France. He is the author of Préambules. Les Premiers Pas de l'Homme, published by Editions Odile Jacob.