Mary Leakey At 100: Her Findings Have Researchers Digging For More
Mary Leakey was quite a woman. She was a British paleoanthropologist, and half of a team, the other half being her husband, Louis Leakey, who was a British archaeologist and naturalist. Together they forged their way through the world of archaeology and anthropology, and together, made some very important discoveries along the way.
Mary Leakey was born Mary Douglas Nicol to Erskine and Cecilia Nicol on the morning of Feb. 6th, 1913, and today is the 100th anniversary of her birth. Her parents never would have guessed that she would one day turn out to be such a huge part of the global scientific community.
As a young child, her parents moved around quite a bit, allowing her to visit numerous countries, including Italy, the U.S., and Egypt. It was there that she developed her affinity for Egyptology, and the rest is history, as they say.
In her 60+ years as a paleoanthropologist, she and her husband Louis made numerous scientific discoveries, including: the first fossilized Proconsul skull, an extinct genus of primates, often linked to humans. She also discovered the Zinjanthropus skull at the Olduvai Gorge, a ravine in the Great Rift Valley in the Serengeti Plains of Eastern Tanzania. She would make the dig at Olduvai Gorge her lifes work.
In 1978, she made a major scientific discovery, the discovery of the famed Laetoli Footprints, in Laetoli, Tanzania, 45 KM south of the dig at Olduvai Gorge. The discovery of The Laetoli Footprints attracted worldwide attention, and cemented her career as the pre-eminent paleoanthropologist of the 20th century.
The rest of her years were spent analyzing the discoveries made at these 2 sites, preparing manuscripts and assembling publications for dissemination amongst the scientific world.
Upon her death in 1996, her son Richard took her place, picking up the torch his mother had carried for over 6 decades.
The Scientific worlds of Anthropology and Archaeology have been greatly enriched by Mary Leakey’s presence, and the Scientific Research community has put her many discoveries to great use, using them to solve some of the greatest questions of all time.