Yves Coppens

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Yves Coppens
Yves Coppens detail.jpg
Yves Coppens (November 2006)
Born (1934-08-09) 9 August 1934 (age 84)
Known forCo-discovery of "Lucy"
AwardsHigh Officer of the Légion d'honneur
National Order of Merit
Academic palms
National Order of Tchad
National Order of Arts and Humanities (2010)
Commander of the Order of Cultural Merit of Monaco

Yves Coppens (born 9 August 1934 in Vannes, Morbihan) is a French anthropologist and co-discoverer of the fossil known as "Lucy".[1] A graduate from the University of Rennes, he has studied ancient hominids and has had multiple published works on this topic, and has also produced a film. On Saturday, 18 October 2014, Professor Coppens was named an Ordinary Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Francis.[2]

Scientific work[edit]

Coppens is one of the co-discoverers of Lucy along with Donald Johanson and Maurice Taieb.[1]

However, Richard Dawkins makes the following observation in The Ancestor's Tale: "Incidentally, I don't know what to make of the fact that in his native France, Yves Coppens is widely cited as the discoverer of Lucy, even as the 'father' of Lucy. In the English-speaking world, this important discovery is universally attributed to Donald Johanson".[citation needed] This confusion is because Coppens was the former director of the Hadar expedition. Donald Johanson, who lead the 1974 expedition, was the one who found Lucy. [3] The "Rift Valley theory", proposed and supported by the Dutch primatologist Adriaan Kortlandt,[4] became better known when it was later espoused and renamed by Coppens as the "East Side Story". However, this paradigm has been challenged by the discovery of Australopithecus bahrelghazali (Abel) and Sahelanthropus tchadensis by Michel Brunet's team in Toumaï in Chad (2,500 km to west Rift Valley [5][6] The main-belt asteroid 172850 Coppens was named in his honour.[1] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 21 March 2008 (M.P.C. 62357).[7]


Yves Coppens chaired the commission which wrote the French Charter for the Environment of 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "172850 Coppens (2005 EU27)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  2. ^ http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/18/0767/01629.html
  3. ^ Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind: 1981 by Johanson & Edey
  4. ^ Kortlandt, A. (1972) - New perspectives on ape and human evolution, Amsterdam, Stichting voor Psychobiologie.
  5. ^ 2. Brunet, M. (1997) - « Origine des hominidés : East Side Story... West Side Story... », Géobios, M.S. n ° 20, 79–83
  6. ^ 3.Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Mackaye, H. T., Likius, A. et al. (2002) - "A new hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad, Central Africa", Nature, vol. 418, 11 July 2002, pp. 145–151.
  7. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 30 October 2018.

External links[edit]