Today’s Google Doodle is for Mary Leaky’s 100th birthday.

Some of you may ask “who is Mary Leaky?”

Mary Leaky was a British archaeologist and anthropologist, discoverer of the first fossilised Proconsul skull, Zinjanthropus skull and the Laetoli footprints.

In 1925 at the age of 12 Mary’s first spark of interest in the past came while staying with her family at Les Eyzies in southern France at a time when Elie Peyrony was excavating one of the caves there, after gaining permission to go through his dump site she started a collection of points, scrapers and blades. Further interest came from touring the Pech Merle caves in Cabrerets.

After returning to London Mary had a tumultuous education in Catholic convent schools, being expelled the first time for refusing to recite poetry and expelled from another school for causing an explosion in the chemistry lab. Two home tutors were also unsuccessful with Mary. Mary’s mother contacted a professor at Oxford University about a possible admission but due to her  academic record she was told that it would not even be worth her time applying. After her family moved to Kensington she began attending unregistered to lectures in archaeology and related subjects at University College London and the London Museum, where she studied under Mortimer Wheeler.

She applied to a number of excavations to be held in the summer. Wheeler was the first to accept her for a dig at St. Albans at the Roman site of Verulamium. Mary’s second dig was at Hembury, a Neolithic site, under Dorothy Liddell, who coached her for four years. Mary’s illustrations of tools for Dorothy drew the attention of Gertrude Caton-Thompson, and in late 1932 she entered the field as an illustrator for Caton-Thompson’s book, The Desert Fayoum

Through Gertrude Mary met British archaeologist and naturalist Louis Leakey. In 1936, after becoming romantically attached while working with him on his book Adam’s Ancestors the two married. Between 1940 and 1949 they had 3 sons and the family spent the majority of their time on anthropological sites. Whenever possible the Leakeys explored and excavated as a family.

In 1951, despite the fact she was told as a teenager that applying would be a waste of her time,  Mary was awarded an honorary doctoral degree by Oxford University.

In 1960 Mary became director of excavations at Olduvai gorge.

In 1971 Mary’s husband died, carrying on her work she became a powerful and respected figure in the world of palaeoanthropology.

Books by Mary Leakey:

  • Excavations at Njoro River Cave, 1950, with Louis.
  • Olduvai Gorge: Excavations in Beds I and II, 1960-1963, 1971.
  • Olduvai Gorge: My Search for Early Man, 1979
  • Africa’s Vanishing Art: The Rock Paintings of Tanzania, 1983

The True Comic Story About 3 Primatologists Who Changed How We See the World

Legend has it that in the 1950s, DC Comics concluded that the ticket to sure sales lay not with super-powered hijinks, but with gorillas: any comic with an ape on its cover was sure to outsell the ape-free issues. By that token alone, Primates, a new graphic novel by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks about the lives and work of three seminal primatologists, should be a smash-hit.

Primates tells the connected stories of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, known collectively as “Leaky’s Angels” in tribute to their collective mentor, archaeologist and paleoanthropologist Louis Leaky. Beginning with Goodall in 1960, each woman embarked on a long-term field study of a group of primates—Goodall, chimps; Fossey, mountain gorillas; Galdikas, orangutans—and, in the process, revolutionized not only the field of primatology but scientific perspectives on human evolution and the very definition of humanity.

Written by Jim Ottaviani and drawn and lettered by Maris Wicks, Primates draws from the diaries of all three scientists—as well as a slew of other sources detailed in a bibliography at the end to paint a compelling picture of their work and lives, deftly interweaving the three women’s stories in an account that’s equal parts biography and scientific history… 


I have always love collecting comic books, getting into a really good graphic novel series, heck, I even have binders full of the collectible cards…
But I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a graphic novel as much as I want this one.

The PARA who singlehandedly prevented considerable loss of life during an assault into a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan is to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour, it has been announced today with the publication of the operational honours and awards list.

Lance Corporal Josh Leakey, of The Parachute Regiment, was deployed in Afghanistan as a member of a task force conducting operations to disrupt insurgent safe-havens and protect the main operating base in Helmand Province during the summer of 2013.

It was whilst on a combined UK/US assault led by the US Marine Corps to disrupt a key insurgent group on 22 August 2013 that the force, having dismounted from their helicopters, came under accurate machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire.

“On this day, things just felt different,” said Josh, recalling the events of the day. “The enemy were more determined, even when air support was around, they stood and they fought, which was fairly uncommon. And, thoughts going through my mind on that day were, let’s do this right. There’s a man wounded, we need to get this guy sorted, and also stop more people getting wounded.”

Josh is not the first recipient of the VC in his family, as his second cousin twice removed, Sergeant Nigel Gray Leakey, was posthumously recognised with the honour in November 1945 during the Second World War.

Read the full story: http://bit.ly/1AN7Ijc

Oldest Human Fossils Identified

Human fossils found 40 years ago in Africa are 65,000 years older than previously thought, a new study says—pushing the dawn of “modern” humans back 35,000 years.

New dating techniques indicate that the fossils are 195,000 years old. The two skulls and some bones were first uncovered on opposite sides of Ethiopia’s Omo River in 1967 by a team led by Richard Leakey. The fossils, dubbed Omo I and Omo II, were dated at the time as being about 130,000 years old. But even then the researchers themselves questioned the accuracy of the dating technique.

The new findings, published in the February 17 issue of the journal Nature, establish Omo I and II as the oldest known fossils of modern humans. The prior record holders were fossils from Herto, Ethiopia, which dated the emergence of modern humans in Africa to about 160,000 years ago.

"The new dating confirms the place of the Omo fossils as landmark finds in unraveling our origins," said Chris Stringer, director of the Human Origins Group at the Natural History Museum in London.

The 195,000-year-old date coincides with findings from genetic studies on modern human populations. Such studies can be used to determine when the earliest modern humans lived.

The findings also add credibility to the widely accepted “Out of Africa” theory of human origins which holds that modern humans (later versions of Homo sapiens) first appeared in Africa and then spread out to colonize the rest of the world.

(Source: National Geographic News)

Mary Leakey’s 100th Birthday

When Mary Douglas Nicol was born 100 years ago today, the idea of human physical evolution was only a few decades old, and very little evidence of any human-like creatures beyond ourselves and living apes had been discovered.

Some specimens of Neanderthals had been found, but the most complete belonged to an aged, worn, arthritic man. This contributed to a common view that whatever ancestors we had were, like Hobbes’ image of primitive life itself, “nasty, brutish, and short.”

Through a life of dedication to research and exploration of Africa’s Rift Valley, Mary met and married Louis Leakey and together they brought to light some of the most significant and spectacular remains of ancient human ancestors more apelike, and more clearly energetic and capable than many had ever considered possible. The discovery in 1960 of Homo habilis, the “handy man” marked the earliest known expert stone tool makers, and the footprints at Laetoli revealed for the first time a snapshot of our apelike forebears in action. Read more.

Leakey’s Angels

(From left: Biruté Galdikas, Jane Goodall, and Dian Fossey)

These three women were hand selected by the anthropologist Louis Leakey to study the behaviours of orangutans, chimpanzees, and mountain gorillas for the purpose of uncovering the relationship between primates and the environment. Although Leakey was specifically interested in tying their observations to human evolution, these women were pioneers in their fields, uncovering vast amounts of information regarding great ape behaviour and ecology. By the time of Leakey’s death, Goodall and Fossey had conducted massive amounts of research in Gombe and the Virunga mountains, while Biruté Galdikas was just beginning her work in Indonesia.  A fourth researcher, Toni Jackman, was also planning to leave for the purpose of research into bonobo behavioural ecology, but inadequate funding resulted in her being unable to leave.

These women are marvels of primatology - brave, intelligent, and committed to conservation, even to the point of death in the case of Fossey. Their work has shaped our understanding of our own evolution as well as the evolution of our closest relatives. They are truly inspiring!

NEW DELHI: Google, today, commemorates Mary Leakey’s 100th birthday anniversary with an attractive doodle. Leakey, a renowned British archaeologist and anthropologist, was born on February 6, 1913 in London, England and is well known for her significant discoveries and exploring the fossils of the ancient hominines. She collaborated with her husband Louis Leakey through a large part of her career and her three sons also entered the same field. She died on December 9, 1996 at the age of 83.

Leakey's discoveries included the fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape that is believed to be ancestor to humans. Another discovery was that of the Zinjanthropus skull, an early hominin, at Olduvai Gorge. She is also credited with developing a system to classify stone tools found at Olduvai as well as discovering Laetoli footprints. Over the course of her career, Leakey wrote four books.

read more here