Q&A: Donald Johanson 

Anthropologist

Anthropologist Donald Johanson will talk about evolution and finding "Lucy" at Rhodes College at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Bryan Center on Tuesday, March 25th.

Lucy — the name was borrowed from the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," which expedition members played over and over in celebration after "her" discovery — is one of the oldest and best-preserved skeletons of a walking-erect human ancestor. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Johanson is director of the Institute for the Study of Human Origins at Arizona State University. — by John Branston

Flyer: What can Memphis expect from the man who discovered Lucy?

Johanson: They can expect a presentation on the importance of Lucy, not only in my life but in our understanding of some of the early stages of the origins of humans. Since the discovery in 1974, Lucy has become the touchstone by which the average person enters into an understanding of human evolution.

People should also expect to hear a little about how we go about running expeditions like this.

What is Lucy's importance?

Lucy sits on the family tree at an interesting point between our more primitive apelike ancestors and our first glimpse at creatures walking fully upright, and she is probably the last common ancestor to later branches, including the one that led to modern humans.

So the earth is not 6,000 years old?

That's right. Lucy is 3.2 million years old, and that is really well documented in geological dating.

Are you ever picketed when you give talks?

No, I never have been.

You're coming to the heart of the Bible Belt. Do you do a lot of lectures in the South?

I've lectured all around Georgia and always had an appreciative audience.

Are you surprised at the ongoing debate about evolution and creation?

It's not surprising. Different people have various views of how the world got to be the way it is. Some focus on a belief-system brand of religion without scientific substance. Others are more scientific.

As anthropologist Ashley Montagu said, "Science has proof without certainty and religion has certainty without proof." From the scientific point of view, we have to look within the framework of evolution. And there are people who accept both explanations — that whatever or whoever the creator was, evolution was his/her way of bringing about humans.

Is it true that you had low S.A.T. scores in high school?

I did not do well on the tests. I thought they were not culture-free, and I said, "I am not going to study for this." My high school guidance counselor in Chicago said I should go to trade school and study electronics.

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • Infill Frenzy

      When development comes to neighborhoods, who listens to the neighbors?

Blogs

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Draft Jevon Carter in Second Round

Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies Draft Jaren Jackson, Jr. in First Round

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Hereditary

Music Blog

Get Hip to the Hop: Where to Hear Live Rap in Memphis

Intermission Impossible

A Memorial Service Has Been Scheduled for Beloved Actor, Singer Ann Sharp

Beyond the Arc

The 2018 NBA Draft and Creeping Dread

We Saw You

Herb O'Mell, Wine Down for BizTown, Frequent Flyer and More!

News Blog

Memphis Pets of the Week (June 21-27)

ADVERTISEMENT

More by John Branston

  • Pyramid History 101

    Bass Pro should acknowledge the big pointy building’s backstory.
    • May 14, 2015
  • Let it Be

    What to do about the Fairgrounds? How about nothing?
    • Jan 29, 2015
  • Let’s Go, Shelby County Schools!

    Some suggestions for how the new Shelby County Schools system can hold its own in the years to come.
    • Aug 14, 2014
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Trumping Latinos

    Memphis Latinos fear for the lives they’ve built in an uncertain future ahead.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Art Dollars

    Q&A with Lauren Kennedy, executive director of the UrbanArt Commission
    • Jan 4, 2018
  • Makers Marked

    New study maps makers and their needs.
    • Dec 1, 2016
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation