In 1974, scientists unearthed the earliest known fossil evidence of human beings from the Middle Awash region of Ethiopia. The skeleton is dated from about 3.2 million years ago. A female individual named "Deneknesh" or "Lucy" with half of the bones of her skeleton was found. A series of fossils from at least 13 individuals were also found and collectively named the "First Family. These findings instantly gave the world of science much clearer evidence as to where human beings come from and Ethiopia is now referred to as the "cradle of mankind" as a result.
Lucy has come to verify that Ethiopia is not only a country of diverse cultures and ancient civilization, but also a country where humanity began, a country that holds the key to understanding human ancestry. Lucy, therefore, is a national pride for Ethiopia and a vital treasure for the world at large.
Currently the Lucy skeleton is in the United States after a controversial decision made by the current Ethiopian Government that handed Lucy to the American Government on 6 August 2007 "for a six-year tour of the States."
The Laucy skeleton is considered precious for obvious reasons and not even Ethiopians who visit the Natural History Museum in Addis Ababa get to see the real Lucy, as the skeleton on display at the museum is a replica of the original Lucy. It is reported that the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Texas is in possession of the skeleton.