yves coppens


July 6, 2022

Yves Coppens (August 9, 1934 – June 22, 2022) was a French anthropologist famous for having been part of the team that discovered the fossil of a female Australopithecus afarensis named Lucy.


Coppens graduated from the University of Rennes, where he studied geology, zoology and botany, starting his career in 1956, working at various institutions, all in Paris. He studied ancient hominids and had several works published on this topic. He was elected professor of anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History in 1980, and professor of paleoanthropology and prehistory at the Collège de France in 1983. Copppens is one of the co-discoverers of Lucy, along with Donald Johanson and Maurice Taieb, although Richard Dawkins makes the following observation in The Ancestor's Tale: "I don't know, by the way, what to make of the fact that in his native France, Yves Coppens is widely cited as the discoverer of Lucy, even as the "father" of Lucy. In the English-speaking world, this important discovery is universally attributed to Donald Johanson." This confusion is because Coppens was the director of the Hadar expedition and thus responsible for all the expedition's discoveries, while Donald Johanson was one of the participants in the expedition that found Lucy's skeleton. The "Rift Valley Theory", proposed and supported by the primatologist Dutchman Adriaan Kortlandt, became better known when it was later championed by Coppens as the "East Side Story". However, this paradigm was challenged by the discovery of Australopithecus bahrelghazali named Abel and Sahelanthropus tchadensis by Michel Brunet's team at Toumai in Chad (2500 km west of the Rift Valley). The asteroid 172850 'Coppens' is named in his honor. Coppens was in Brazil in 2013, where he delivered five lectures, held at the Brazilian Congress of Spinal Surgery, in Florianópolis (three lectures); one at the French College of São Paulo (Lycée Pasteur); and one at the Academia de Medicina de São Paulo. Coppens died on June 22, 2022, at the age of 87.


[1983] Le Singe, l'Afrique et l'homme, Fayard, 1983 (ISBN 2-213-01272-5). [1992] Yves Coppens et Brigitte Senut, Origines de la bipédie, CNRS, 1992 (ISBN 2-222-04602-5). [Coppens, Reeves, Rosnay & Simonnet 1996] La Plus Belle Histoire du monde, Seuil, 1996 (ISBN 2-02-050576-2). [1999] Pré-ambules : les premiers pas de l'homme, Éditions Odile Jacob, 1999 (ISBN 2-7381-0936-5). [2000] Le Genou de Lucy: l'histoire de l'homme et l'histoire de son histoire, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2000 (ISBN 2-7381-0334-0). Grand Entertainment, 2001 [Collectif 2001] Collectif, Les Origines de l'homme : réalité, mythe, mode, Artcom, 2001. [Pick & Coppens 2001] Pascal Pick et Yves Coppens, Aux origines de l'humanité, t. 1 : De l'aparition de la vie à l'homme moderne, Fayard, november 2001. [Pick & Coppens 2001] Pascal Pick et Yves Coppens, Aux origines de l'humanité, t. 2 : Le propre de l'homme, Fayard, november 2001. [2003] Berceaux de l'humanite. Des origines à l'Âge de bronze, Larousse, 2003. [2003] L'Odyssee de l'espèce, EPA, 2003 (ISBN 2-85120-604-4). [2004] Homo sapiens et l'enfant loup, Flammarion, 2004 (ISBN 2-08-162798-1). [2004] Chroniques d'un paléontologue, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2004 (ISBN 2-7381-1112-2). [2006] Histoire de l'homme et changements climatiques, Collège de France / Fayard, 2006 (ISBN 2-213-62872-6). [2009] Le Present du passé. L'Actualité de l'histoire de l'Homme, Paris, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2009, 288 p., sur boos.google.com (ISBN 978-2-7381-1112-8). [2009] L'Histoire des singes. Yves Coppens raconte nos ancêtres, Paris, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2009, 64 p. (ISBN 978-2-7381-2299-5). [2010] Le Présent du passé au carré. La fabrication de la préhistoire, Paris, Éditions Odile Jacob, 2010, 224 p. (ISBN 978-2-7381-2476-0). [2010] Origines de l'homme. From the matie