Lucy on the road

Like Santa Claus, "Lucy" has left her far-off home in the dead of night to bring joy to boys and girls all over America, reports the AP:

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - After 3.2 million years in East Africa, one of the world's most famous set of fossils was quietly flown out of Ethiopia overnight for a U.S. tour that some experts say is a dangerous gamble with an irreplaceable relic.
Although the fossil known as Lucy had been expected to leave the Ethiopian Natural History Museum this month, some in the nation's capital were surprised the departure took place under cover of darkness with no fanfare Sunday.

This is a long article, airing the viewpoint of many scientists that the fossils shouldn't be moved, as well as the Houston Museum of Natural Science's preparations for the exhibit:

"We will put Lucy on display with the utmost care just as we have put other fragile artifacts on display, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were returned to Israel in the same condition they came to our museum," Dirk Van Tuerenhout said.
The museum exhibited the Dead Sea Scrolls for three months in late 2004 and early 2005.

Hmmm...an interesting comparison. I suppose it goes to show how museums have fetishized objects -- it doesn't matter what it is, or why it is priceless, the system is in place to handle any kind of object.

Anyway, the article mentions other possible U.S. stops for the exhibit, including the Field Museum possibly in November 2009. The entire trip is planned to be six years.