Donald Carl Johanson
June 28, 1943
|Alma mater||University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign|
University of Chicago
|Known for||Discovery of a new hominid, Australopithecus afarensis ("Lucy")|
|Institutions||Arizona State University|
Donald Carl Johanson (born June 28, 1943) is an American paleoanthropologist. He is known for discovering – with Yves Coppens and Maurice Taieb – the fossil of a female hominin australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia.
Early life and education
Johanson was born in Chicago, Illinois to native parents, the nephew of wrestler Ivar Johansson. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1966, and his master's degree (1970) and PhD (1974) from the University of Chicago. At the time of the discovery of Lucy, he was an associate professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University. In 1981, he established the Institute of Human Origins in Berkeley, California which he later moved to Arizona State University in 1997. Johanson holds an honorary doctorate from Case Western Reserve University, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Westfield State College in 2008. He is an atheist.
Lucy was discovered in Hadar, Ethiopia on November 24, 1974, when Johanson, coaxed away from his paperwork by graduate student Tom Gray for a spur-of-the-moment survey, caught the glint of a white fossilized bone out of the corner of his eye, and recognized it as hominin. Forty percent of the skeleton was eventually recovered, and was later described as the first known member of Australopithecus afarensis. Johanson was astonished to find so much of her skeleton all at once. Pamela Alderman, a member of the expedition, suggested she be named "Lucy" after the Beatles' song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" which was played repeatedly during the night of the discovery.
A bipedal hominin, Lucy stood about three and a half feet tall; her bipedalism supported Raymond Dart's theory that australopithecines walked upright. Johanson and his team concluded from Lucy's rib that she ate a plant-based diet, and from her curved finger bones that she was probably still at home in trees. They did not immediately see Lucy as a separate species, but considered her an older member of Australopithecus africanus. The discovery, however, of several more skulls of similar morphology persuaded most palaeontologists to classify her as a species called afarensis.
AL 333, commonly referred to as the "First Family," is a collection of prehistoric homininid teeth and bones of at least thirteen individuals that were also discovered in Hadar by Johanson's team in 1975. Generally thought to be members of the species Australopithecus afarensis, the fossils are estimated to be about 3.2 million years old.
Awards and honors
- In 1976, Johanson received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.
- In 1991, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSICOP) awarded Johanson their highest honor, the In Praise of Reason award.
- On October 19, 2014, Johanson gave the second annual Patrusky Lecture.
- On October 24, 2014, Johanson accepted the "Emperor Has No Clothes" award at the Freedom From Religion Foundation 37th annual convention.
- Asteroid 52246 Donaldjohanson, a target of the Lucy mission was named in his honor. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on December 25, 2015 (M.P.C. 97569).
- Johanson, Donald; Maitland Edey (1981). Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-25036-1.
- Johanson, Donald; James Shreeve (1989). Lucy's Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor. London: Viking. ISBN 0-670-83366-5.
- Johanson, Donald; Blake Edgar (1996). From Lucy to Language. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-81023-9.
- Johanson, Donald; Giancarlo Ligabue (1999). Ecce Homo: Writings in Honour of Third Millennium Man. Milan: Electa. ISBN 88-435-7170-2.
- Johanson, Donald; Kate Wong (2009). Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 978-0-307-39639-6.
- Australopithecus afarensis
- Dawn of Humanity (2015 PBS film)
- List of fossil sites (with link directory)
- List of hominina (hominin) fossils (with images)
- Multi-regional origin
- Single-origin hypothesis
- This was the 1982 award for paperback Science.
From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Awards history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and multiple nonfiction subcategories. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints of books eligible for previous awards but the 1982 Science was original, Taking the Quantum Leap by Fred Alan Wolf.
- "Honorary Degrees, CWRU 2009". May 14, 2009. Archived from the original on September 24, 2012. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
- "Crowd loves Lucy scientific sleuth Johanson". ffrf.org.
- Donald C. Johanson (2009). Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins. Harmony Books.
- "National Book Awards – 1981". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- "CSICOP's 1991 Awards". Skeptical Inquirer. 16 (1): 16. 1991.
- "52246 Donaldjohanson (1981 EQ5)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
- "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
- "Advisory Council". ncse.com. National Center for Science Education. Archived from the original on August 10, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Donald Johanson.|
- Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University
- "Donald C. Johanson, Ph.D. Biography and Interview". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
- In Search of Human Origins – PBS
- Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins – Video
- NPR. Science Friday. "Human Origins" – May 9, 1997 interview with Johanson.
- NPR. Science Friday. "Lucy's Relative" – December 1, 2006 interview with Johanson.
- NPR. Science Friday. "Lucy's Legacy" – March 6, 2009 interview with Johanson.
- "Origins of Modern Humans: Multiregional or Out of Africa?" by Donald Johanson