Our 3D Printing Industry team recent reported on a young girl who discovered and then 3D printed a replica of an ancient skull. Now, a recent discovery found that the famous fossilized human ancestor dubbed “Lucy” probably died from falling from a tree, all thanks to 3D printing technology. Lucy’s bones were scanned by modern tools including high-resolution CT scanners. The researchers then used their scans to 3D print Lucy’s humerus and discuss it with orthopedic surgeons. So far, they have all agreed that her death was a fall from heights.
Lucy is an ancient human fossil specimen found in Ethiopia in 1974 with 40% complete skeleton derived from the species Australopithecus afarensis. Usually, palaeo-anthropologists could only find fossil fragments instead of a complete skull or skeleton. So Lucy has provided large amounts of scientific evidence in the study of palaeo-anthropology.
Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the US and Ethiopia describe a “vertical deceleration event” which they argue caused Lucy’s death.
She was around 1.1m (3ft 7in) tall and 29kg in weight. Though with a small cranial capacity, she had almost the same functional pelvis and shank as modern humans, which proved that this hominid could walk on two feet. By peering inside the bones in minuscule detail, the scanner showed that several of the fractures were “greenstick” breaks. The bone had bent and snapped like a twig: something that only happens to healthy, living bones.
It it also shown that her right humerus was broken and compressed and the injuries of her pelvis, left shoulder, knees and right ankle were the consistent with a fall.
The researchers, in partnership with the government of Ethiopia, have made the files available online. It is said that the Ethiopian ministry has agreed to release 3D files of Lucy’s right shoulder and her left knee. So anyone with an interest in Lucy can print this files out and evaluate these fractures.
According to the discovery, Lucy could have lived in the tree or slept in the tree in order to avoid predators. So it is very likely that she could fall from a tree.
Feature image: nanjixiong