November 24th: How did ‘Lucy’ our oldest human ancestor get her name?

    20 November 2020

    Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …

    November 21

    Who was the inspiration behind Sting’s Englishman in New York? (Image: Getty)

    Quentin Crisp (died 1999). The raconteur (born Denis Pratt) was the subject of the Sting song An Englishman in New York. Crisp’s autobiography The Naked Civil Servant took its name from his work as a nude model for artists – he was paid by the Department for Education.

    November 22

    Jackie Kennedy suffered from PTSD after witnessing the assassination of her husband John F Kennedy.

    John F Kennedy was assassinated (1963). His wife Jacqueline Kennedy rarely travelled with him on political trips but decided to fly with him to Texas on November 21st.

    November 23

    A Sumatran rhino at Cincinnati Zoo

    The last known specimen of the Sumatran rhino, 25-year-old Iman, died of cancer in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo in 2019. The species has officially been declared extinct in Malaysia.

    November 24

    A sculptor’s rendering of our earliest ancestor (Getty)

    In 1974 Lucy, the oldest human ancestor ever found (3.2 million years), was discovered in Ethiopia. She was given her name because the paleoanthropologists who found her were listening to a cassette of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds by the Beatles.

    November 25

    Photo: Getty

    In 1952 The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London, beginning a run that would become the longest of any play ever, anywhere in the world. The clock above the fireplace in the main hall is still the original prop. It’s said that if you fail to tip your cabbie as he drops you off at the theatre, he’ll tell you the ending.

    November 26

    In 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered Tutankhamun’s tomb. One of the things they found was a jar of honey – despite being over 3000 years old it was still edible. (Honey is one of the few foods that never goes off.)

    November 27

    Arthur Smith (born 1954). The comedian used to begin his act: ‘My name is Arthur Smith. Unless there’s anybody here from Streatham tax office, in which case I’m Daphne Fairfax.’