Chicago Tribune (MCT)
HOUSTON — When Ethiopia six years ago decided it needed to find a goodwill ambassador to send on the road to spruce up its image as a nation and a tourist destination, the government turned to one of its oldest residents and perhaps the only one to be truly world-famous, a diminutive bag of bones named Lucy.
A special exhibition built around the 3.2 million-year-old pre-human fossil was unveiled to the press Tuesday at the Houston Museum of Natural History, the first stop of a six-year American tour much criticized by top international anthropologists and paleontologists. Ethiopian officials on hand defended the exhibit by saying that Lucy, considered by many to be the most important hominid fossil in the world, has to serve other interests in addition to science.
"To suggest that research trumps everything else" that has to do with Lucy is wrong, said Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia's ambassador to the U.S., suggesting the fossil should be used to educate as well. "Lucy belongs to the world. She is the origin of humanity. We all see ourselves in Lucy."