Lucy, the famed Australopithecus afarensis, may have died from falling out of a tree 3.18 million years ago, according to new forensic analysis. This video explains the reasoning behind the hypothesis.
The new analysis was completed by a multidisciplinary team affiliated with University of Texas at Austin, who published their findings in Nature this week:
Here we propose, on the basis of close study of her skeleton, that her cause of death was a vertical deceleration event or impact following a fall from considerable height that produced compressive and hinge (greenstick) fractures in multiple skeletal elements. Impacts that are so severe as to cause concomitant fractures usually also damage internal organs; together, these injuries are hypothesized to have caused her death.
The findings add to the spirited debate about how arboreal our ancestors were.