Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.
Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?
Here’s a summary:
Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.
Every week, I’ll post part of this story.
A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.
Here’s Part 17:
Chapter 7–Part I
Homo habilis as Scavenger
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”
—Charles Darwin, discussing his ‘dangerous idea’.
Every hunt had that pivotal moment when the wait became the chase. Today, Sabertooth would decide when that would happen. If Raza missed that moment, Snarling-dog and Eagle would eat and Raza’s band would go hungry.
But Raza wouldn’t miss it. He could wait, patient and unmoving, longer than any other mammal alive. Years of being prey had honed his skill. He had reached that defining point of his life when physical and mental coalesced, allowing him to accept tremendous responsibility for his band. Unlike the ageless landscape around him, Raza would be old in fifteen years, and dead in twenty. If the art of painting stories on the damp walls of underground caves had been invented, he would be memorialized as a noble leader who challenged fate for the good of his group. Instead, the generation’s greatest hunter would be remembered only by the children he left behind.
But Raza knew the truth. Lucy was by far the better hunter. No male, not even his hunting partner Vorak, could read predators as Lucy did. It was as though she were inside their heads. The duo never returned to Camp empty-handed, even when game was sparse and searing heat drove herds far from their natural hunting grounds.
Because females weren’t accepted as hunters, the better Lucy did at hunting, the worse the band’s females treated her. They followed rigid cultural norms, like every other herd in the grassland. Lucy’s tree-bound band must have been more open-minded, or hungrier, and she seemed unable to compromise, even for the worthy goals she’d set when she left her homeland. When it would all fall apart, Raza wasn’t sure, but he knew it would.
Sabertooth lazed on the bristled earth, head between her paws and snout buried in the bloody remains of Oryx. She ignored Lucy and Raza, Snarling-dog and Eagle as she devoured her meal. Raza wasn’t surprised. Before setting out today, he’d rubbed dirt and decaying plants over his skin so Sabertooth would confuse his scent with a bush and his color with the grass around him. In all likelihood, if Raza didn’t move, Cat would never see him until she finished.
Nature’s face creased into a childish grin.
“Though imposing to the point of intimidation, Sabertooth’s brain is too small and its mind too dumb. It solves problems with brute force. I ask you, Lucy, are claws and canines mightier than your brainpower? Can mental strength defeat physical prowess? You understand your environment and Cat rules it. You can adapt and Cat has no idea it should. Still, its confidence has made it ruler.”
Lucy squatted, her expanding girth hidden by waist-high reeds, not moving despite the tickle of tiny feet on her skin. Only her nose quivered, testing the air. Cat’s golden eyes closed as razor-sharp teeth tore another hunk of meat from the bone.
“Nngh.” Lucy grunted as a mouse scampered over her bare foot, and then stilled her muscles when a gentle wind rustled the grass, concealing her twitch.
“Shh,” Raza hissed He planted one hand into the hardscrabble ground while the other rested on his damaged knee. Lucy flexed her foot, eased her weight from one leg to the other, and then settled in to wait some more.
Nature puffed another breeze across the grasses, this time filled with Sabertooth scent.
“Every Pliocene animal believes Cat is supreme, Lucy, but you shouldn’t. Sabertooth will disappear long before your progeny vanish from this blue-green planet.”
Part XVIII next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.