Leakey’s Second Hand Bookshop, Inverness, Scotland. Leakey’s is Scotland’s largest second-hand bookstore. Opened in 1972 and formerly home to St Mary’s Gaelic Church (built 1792), the historic premises are a perfect environment to browse through rows of tall wooden shelves stuffed with books on every subject imaginable. (Photo by Juls Chong)

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
5
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… 

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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.

Evolution Skeptics Will Soon be Silenced by Science: Richard Leakey

Richard Leakey predicts skepticism over evolution will soon be history.

Not that the avowed atheist has any doubts himself.

Sometime in the next 15 to 30 years, scientific discoveries will have accelerated to the point that “even the skeptics can accept it,” the Kenyan-born paleoanthropologist said.

"If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it’s solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges."

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