Paleontologist, Yves Coppens, who is known for discovering fossils of the famous hominid fossil Lucy, died on Wednesday. He was 87 years old
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BREAKING NEWS: Famed paleontologist Yves Coppens, whose discovery of 3.2-million-year-old skeleton, Lucy, proved human ancestors walked upright, dies at age 87

  • Yves Coppens died Wednesday at the age of 87 after battling an illness
  • He was born on August 9, 1943 in Vannes, France and dedicated his life to unravelling the mystery of human origin
  • He is famed for discovering a skeleton of a hominid 45 years ago in Ethiopia  

Paleontologist, Yves Coppens, who is known for discovering fossils of the famous hominid skeleton Lucy, died on Wednesday after fighting an illness. He was 87 years old.

Coppens, who was born on August 9, 1943 in Vannes, France, dedicated his life to unravelling the mystery of human origin.

And 45 years ago, he stumbled upon a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton in southern Ethiopia that changed our understanding of human evolution – Lucy showed our human ancestors were walking upright much earlier than previously believed.

Those who know Coppen personally say he was a smiley individual with a great sense of humor that was sometimes provocative, and he always professed his confidence in the future of man.

His publisher announced the heartbreaking news on Twitter.

Paleontologist, Yves Coppens, who is known for discovering fossils of the famous hominid fossil Lucy, died on Wednesday. He was 87 years old

Paleontologist, Yves Coppens, who is known for discovering fossils of the famous hominid fossil Lucy, died on Wednesday. He was 87 years old

Odile Jacob shared: ‘#Yves Coppens left us this morning. My sadness is immense. Yves Coppens was a very great scientist, a world-renowned paleontologist, a member of countless foreign institutions, but above all a professor at the Collège de France and a member of the Academy of Sciences.

‘His benevolence, his kindness, his humor, his loyalty, his erudition were matched only by his talent as a writer, storyteller, essayist. I lose the friend who entrusted me with all his work @0dileJacob France loses one of its great men. I will never forget him,’ the tweet continued. 

Coppen, who is of Italian decent, was born to a nuclear physicist, but knew he wanted to be an archeologist at the age of seven or eight, he told AFP in a 2016 interview.

He began his career in 1956 and in 1967, he discovered a 2.6-million-year-old bipedal hominid fossil in the Omo River Valley (Ethiopia). 

Those who know Coppen personally say he was a smiley individual with a great

Those who know Coppen personally say he was a smiley individual with a great

Forty five years ago, he stumbled upon a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton in southern Ethiopia that changed our understanding of human evolution – Lucy showed our human ancestors were walking upright much earlier than previously believed

Forty five years ago, he stumbled upon a 3.2-million-year-old skeleton in southern Ethiopia that changed our understanding of human evolution – Lucy showed our human ancestors were walking upright much earlier than previously believed

But it was in 1974  when he made himself known to the world.

Working with a geologist friend Maurice Taieb and  American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, the team traveled to Ethiopia where they uncovered 52 bone fragments. 

Once they determined the pieces fit into the same skeleton, they decided to give it the name Lucy – this was the Beatles’ song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was playing while they labeled the bones. 

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