Lucy: A Biography–Part XXIX

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.

photo credit: M. Harrsch

Lucy’s story of survival

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 29:

Chapter 12–Part 3

Homo habilis Hunting

“The second image of man the scavenger, is both unfamiliar and unflattering… There is little nobility in man the scavenger.”

—Dr. Pat Shipman

Everyone nodded, entranced by the geographic detail.

“I followed a storm of dust toward mountain-that-smokes—” Vorak’s body movements and expressions conveyed as much as his grunts. “—until it became Okapi.” His hands moved gracefully across his torso, two fingers raised for the ungulates’ horns, “A herd fleeing from lone-hyaena-cat. One female limped, falling behind further with each breath.”

Yoo interrupted. “I wish I was—“

“Shshi!” Raza admonished. “Children must never interrupt a story teller.”

Yoo wriggled, but snapped his mouth shut.

“Hyaena-cat attacked the wounded female.” Vorak’s palms became jaws wider than his head and he clamped them shut on Mir’s neck, as Hyaena-cat did to Okapi. The children shrieked. “She cried, but none of her herd even slowed. In seconds, she fell, legs broken, blood poring into the dry ground. Hyaena-cat began to eat, even as her life ebbed and died.”

Yoo whispered to Gleb, “How could Hyaena-cat not have scented Vorak—She has the keenest nose of any animal!”

“Doubtless I considered that and hid downwind,” Vorak retorted. “But, you must let me finish.”

Yoo drooped under the rebuke. When he finally raised his eyes again to meet Vorak’s, they held such trust and sorrow, the hunter couldn’t remain angry. He ruffled the boy’s head-fur and continued, “I waited while Hyaena-cat ate, and then Snarling-dog.”

“If I were hunter, I would eat first!” Yoo chirped, and then slapped his hand over his mouth.

“And you would never grow up to be a hunter, my exuberant child.” Vorak stared hard at the stunned look on Yoo’s face, “Bravery is not just hunting with the predators, but being smart enough to know your turn. The predator first, then the pack, and finally the lone hunter. Snarling-dog and his cousins. Eagle and her brothers. Each understands. Eat only what you need. Leave what you don’t, for there will be a day you will be last in line.”

His voice softened. “Eagle left me these bones.”

Vorak sat back, satisfied as the children hooted at his bravery. Many hunts ended with large bones and little meat.

“I would do as Vorak does!” Yoo shouted with glee.

When the tumult calmed, Baad began. His story was as short as his hunting life was long. He and Grg, the eldest male of the group, chased a dik-dik over the edge of a cliff. Why it ran over the edge, they didn’t understand, but they descended the slope, shouldered the carcass, and escaped before others arrived.

While Yoo waved his arms and barked approval of his Primary-Male, Lucy leaned in toward Raza. “Why do animals do this over and over? Dik-dik’s fawns, like our children, learn from the herd. Who would teach him to escape by throwing himself over a cliff?”

Raza shrugged. He didn’t know, or care. It only mattered that the hunt fed the group, but he noticed her brow furrowed deeper as her fingers raked through Yoo’s sweaty fur.

Nature chuckled. “Physical prowess pales when pitted against mental strength. It is easier to  outwit predators than outfight them. But not Man-who-preys, Lucy. He is weaker than you, but smarter. Much smarter.”

Finally, it was Lucy and Raza’s turn.

“It was Kee who spotted Eagle’s hunt.”

Everyone turned toward the Elder, who tilted her head in confusion. “I shared only what I heard,” and she placed an ear to the ground, hands flat on either side. “Earth whispers as life passes. Plants grow with a quiet scratch. Animals migrate with a rhythmic pound. But a chase, it rumbles…”

Lucy took up the tale. “I was Eagle-that-hunts, winging over the savanna as the grasses swayed from the rush of bodies. Below, I spotted Saber-tooth hunting Oryx. I knew, as Eagle knows, if Saber-tooth ate, I would eat, for none in Cat’s family can eat an entire Oryx.”

 Photo credit: San Diego Museum of Man

Part XXX next week…

Want to be notified when Lucy: A Biography is published? Click here.

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum and two tech-ed lesson plan collections for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and six ebooks on technology in education for K-8. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blogger,  IMS tech expert, and a bi-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.

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