A bit of good news after the catastrophic fire that ravaged Brazil's National Museum last month: One of the museum's most prized possessions has been mostly recovered. Museum director Alexander Kellner tells the AP that "Luzia," the oldest human fossil ever found in Latin America, was broken but that 80% of the skull pieces have been recovered. Luzia, so named in honor of "Lucy," the famous 3.2-million-year-old remains found in Africa, was discovered during a 1975 excavation outside Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and is among the oldest fossils anywhere in the Americas. The museum is confident the rest of the pieces can be found and reassembly can be attempted, the BBC reports.
"They've suffered alterations, damage, but we're very optimistic at the find and all it represents," a professor at the museum tells AFP. The 12,000-year-old skull, believed to have belonged to a woman in her 20s, was one of about 20 million pieces inside the 200-year-old museum, Brazil's oldest scientific institution, reports the New York Times, which notes that some of those items are "irreplaceable to science." The museum contained the largest collection of historical artifacts in Latin America, and items including South American and Egyptian mummies may have been destroyed. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. (A professor ran into the burning building to retrieve artifacts.)