Lucy went on display today at the [Houston Museum of Natural Science](http://www.hmns.org/?r=1), and there was no way I could resist paying her a visit. I went in to the exhibit with very mixed feelings about it. A lot of people, including quite a few scientists I respect, have been extremely vocal in their opposition to the exhibit. Richard Leakey [called the trip](http://www.abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=3542345&page=1) "a form of prostitution" and "a gross exploitation of the ancestors of humanity." Several museums have [refused](http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082&sid=a7j_9OLhOJUI&refer=canada) to display the fossil, and the Ethiopian community [is calling](http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5giPYjA56VNNwUai1-vBQE9w34BlA) for a boycott of the exhibit.
Their concerns are hardly unreasonable. Lucy's bones are very, very old and very, very fragile. Displaying her does involve some risk, particularly in a traveling exhibition that requires packing and unpacking the bones several times. There is no other Lucy. She's unique. She's a valuable - priceless - scientific specimen. The opponents of the exhibit think that the risk to the remains is simply too great to justify the exhibit.
For all I know, they might be right. I can tell you this, though. When I walked over next to the display case and looked down at Lucy, all of those concerns evaporated from my mind, replaced by a sense of pure awe.
[Read more (at The Questionable Authority, where comments can be left):](http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2007/08/the_edge_of_humanity.php)