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Did Anthropologists Crack the Terrifying Reason Behind 3-Million-Year-Old Mysterious Death of Lucy?

Aug 30, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

Scientists have now discovered the real reason behind Lucy's death, which took place about three million years ago. The study suggests that humanity's most famous cousin died after falling from a tree.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin analyzed Lucy's fossils, which contains distinctive fractures that may reveal the reason behind her death.

National Geographic notes that Lucy, an Australopithecus afarensis, is the most complete hominin fossil ever found. Her remains were unearthed 40 years ago in 1974. At the time of her discovery, Lucy's fossil had a lot of damaged bones and there were insufficient evidence to determine her cause of death.

To crack the mystery behind Lucy's death, anthropologists used three key process: imaging technology, medical analysis and forensic expertise. What the researchers found out was quite disturbing, Smithsonian reports. The distinctive fractures on lucy reveals that she might have fallen from a high place.

“I knew these fractures were there, I just never thought to ask what had caused them. No one, as far as I know, has ever put out a theory of how she died," John Kappelman, lead author of the study, told National Geographic.

However, not everyone is convinced about the findings. Some argues that Lucy's bones would naturally have cracks and they have formed after she died.

But Kappelman and his team say that CT scans show that the cracks in Lucy's bones were different from those sustained from erosion or fossilization. Lucy's arm was shattered while her shoulders had a series of sharp breaks,

“They are consistent with what we see for the sorts of fractures in people who fall from considerable height,” said Kappelman after consulting different surgeons.

“I showed the evidence to an orthopedic surgeon, who immediately said it is a fracture caused by a fall from considerable height -- there was no question at all. I have now had nine surgeons look at this who all agree," he added.

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