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When an American graduate student named Tom Gray announced he was leaving to scout out a nearby fossil site, Johanson had a hunch he should tag along.

“I felt a strong subconscious urge to go with Tom,” he later wrote.

His international field team had already found leg bones and several jaws that were among the oldest examples of hominids—the family of bipedal primates that includes humans and their ancestors—and Johanson was convinced that an even bigger discovery was in the offing.

The twins were first detected by Dr Karen Ballard (left), who used a portable ultrasound machine during Chaltu’s pregnancy. At least she thinks she is, but when you don’t celebrate birthdays, you easily lose count of the years.

She arrived at an antenatal clinic I was running in the rural highlands of western Ethiopia, having heard that there was a farengii (foreigner) carrying out ultrasound scans on pregnant women.

Steven told that Ethiopians who have read the essay have responded to him with warm words and expressions of regret.

This article had been published on the Electronic Urban Report ( and the African-American Village prior to its publication here with the author’s permission in January 2003.

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