“Yves Coppens left us this morning. My sadness is immense,” tweeted Odile Jacob, hailing “a very great scholar”. “I lose the friend who entrusted me with all his work. France loses one of its great men,” added the editor.

The scientist died following a long illness, the publishing house told AFP.

World-renowned paleontologist, professor emeritus at the College de France and member of the Academy of Sciences, Yves Coppens has never ceased to tell the human epic, with a “talent as a storyteller, essayist”, commented Odile Jacob.

This fossil hunter presented himself as one of Lucy’s “daddies”, alongside scientists Maurice Taieb and Donald Johanson: in 1974, in the Afar depression in Ethiopia, the team unearthed the most complete hominid fossil ever found, a 3.2 million year old Australopithecus.

In total, Yves Coppens is a co-signer of six hominids.

He was born on August 9, 1934 in Vannes (Morbihan) and the son of a nuclear physicist.