leakey's

Happy Birthday to Mary Leakey

The pioneering paleoanthropologist was born on this day in 1913. 

Via the New York Times

Mary Leakey died 19 years ago, on Dec. 9, 1996. Her colleagues uniformly remember her as an extraordinary character. Leakey was exacting in her science, and expected the same of her workers. (Her artifact tagging and recording systems are now considered standard practice within archaeology and paleoanthropology.) After her husband, the pioneering paleontologist Louis Leakey, died in 1972, she commanded teams of mostly men when it was still exceedingly rare for a woman to lead an archaeological dig, especially in Africa.

Watch an animated video about Leakey’s life and achievements. 

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The Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross (VC), Britain’s best known military award was established 160 years ago today, the 29th January 1856. It is Britain’s highest military decoration awarded for valour in the face of the enemy.  1,358 medals have been awarded with 1,355 individuals being decorated. Three recipients have won the medal twice, this sees the individual award an additional clasp, this called the VC and Bar. Only three men have won the VC twice: doctors Noel Chavasse and Arthur Martin-Leake and New Zealander Charles Upham.

The VC was created as an award for British servicemen of all ranks following an outcry from the public to recognise the heroism being reported by William Russell newspaper dispatches from the Crimea. Prior to this bravery was often rewarded by promotion, orders of chivalry or gifts - most commonly among officers. However, by this time other countries had instituted awards such as the Legion of Honour introduced by Napoleon in 1802. Following the end of the Crimean War Queen Victoria ordered the War Office to create a new medal for valour in January 1856. One suggestion for the name of the new decoration was The Military Order of Victoria however, this was dropped in favour of the simpler name, Victoria Cross. 

The casting of a simple medal was ordered that would recognise neither birth nor class. The medals were ordered to be cast from the bronze cascabel’s of two Russian cannon captured at Sevastopol. Each medal weighs approximately 50 ounces, one of the original cascabels remains (see image #2). However, there has been some investigation into the true origin of the bronze, with Chinese cannons being found to be the actual source. However, it’s unknown if these were captured from the Russians or had been taken from the Chinese earlier during the Opium Wars. Regardless of the bronze’s source the same metal has been used in the casting of VCs for 160 years.

Diagram showing a cannon’s cascabel (source)

The remaining block of bronze (see image #2) weighs 358 oz (10 kg) and is stored in a Royal Logistics Corps vault and is only removed under armed guard. An estimated 85 more VCs can be cast from the remaining bronze. The medals have a red ribbon (although until 1919 the VCs awarded to members of the Royal Navy were dark blue) and have the crown of Saint Edward, a lion and the inscription ‘For Valour’ which was chosen by Queen Victoria. The recipient is also paid an additional lifetime pension, which for private soldiers during the 19th century was very rare.

The first medal was awarded to Charles Lucas of the Royal Navy for his heroism in August 1854. Lucas was aboard the HMS Hecla during the bombardment of the Russian fortress of Bomarsund when a shell from the fortress landed on the Hecla’s deck before it could explode Lucas picked up the shell and threw it over to the ship’s side. Lucas was promoted and upon the recommendation of Admiral Charles Napier he was retroactively awarded the first VC. 110 other VCs were awarded for heroic actions during the Crimean War.

The VC is awarded to those who have carried out an act of “ …most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” 111 medals were issued for the Crimean War, 182 for the Indian Mutiny, 23 for the Zulu War, 78 during the Boer War, 181 during the Second World War and a staggering 628 during World War One. However, for various reasons eight medals have been forfeited since 1861, for reasons varying from theft to bigamy. No recipient has had their VC forfeited since the 1920s. 

The VC was initially awarded to all British subjects but since the formation of the Commonwealth member nations have moved to award their own decoration. Australia, Canada and New Zealand all award their own versions of the VC. The most recent British VC issued was awarded to Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey of the Parachute Regiment for gallantry while fighting in Afghanistan. Leakey was awarded his VC in February 2015 for organising medical evacuations, re-siting machine guns and engaging the enemy under heavy fire.

Sources:

Image One Source

Image Two Source

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The Leatoli Footprints and Early Human Ancestors

In 1978 a team led by British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey found trace fossils of animal footprints left in ash several million years old.  Searching further, Leakey’s team found the oldest trace fossils of early hominids in Leatoli, about 30 miles south of the famed Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  The footprints are though to come from three individuals from the australopithecus afarensis family.  Like the pithecanthropus (see recent post here), the australopithecus was named under the assumption that it represented a missing link between humans and primates.  The name australopithecus comes from the Latin word australis meaning south and the Ancient Greek word pithekos meaning ape.  The name was given that same year by Donald Wilson and Tim White, who found fragments two thousand miles north of the Leatoli site in the Afar region of Ethiopia, hence afarensis.

Happy Birthday, Mary Leakey, born on this day, February 6, 1913.

Shout out to my little man, Rowan, another Ethiopian treasure!

Photo via J. Paul Getty Trust, copyright 1995.

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Mary Leakey and the Olduvaie discoveries

In 1978 a team led by British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey found trace fossils of animal footprints left in ash several million years old.  Searching further, Leakey’s team found the oldest trace fossils of early hominids in Leatoli, about 30 miles south of the famed Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania.  The footprints are though to come from three individuals from the australopithecus afarensis family.  Like the pithecanthropus (see recent post here), the australopithecus was named under the assumption that it represented a missing link between humans and primates.  The name australopithecus comes from the Latin word australis meaning south and the Ancient Greek word pithekos meaning ape.  The name was given that same year by Donald Wilson and Tim White, who found fragments two thousand miles north of the Leatoli site in the Afar region of Ethiopia, hence afarensis.

Happy Birthday, Mary Leakey, born on this day, February 6, 1913.

Shout out to my little man, Rowan, another Ethiopian treasure!

Photo via J. Paul Getty Trust, copyright 1995.  Top photo of Mary (right) courtesy Smithsonian Institution.

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Idiosyncratic yet skillfully written, psychedelic and performed with a unique charm, “Twinkle”, the new single from Ontario’s Christine Leakey, sounds like an imagination unleashed. It calls to mind with cherished and technicolor memories Super Furry Animals’ most creatively-free moments. A euphoric chanson, you’ll find this on her forthcoming and second LP, entitled Wanderlust Wishing Well.

You can download this track and her previous releases, too, by visiting her Bandcamp page. You can stream a great deal of her music on her Soundcloud page as well.

Ep 89 - Con la mente perdida: la última aventura de Charles Leakey, con María Magdalena Giordano

/ Toda historia llega a su final, y tal parece que la historia de nuestro detective favorito ha alcanzado el suyo. Después de las terribles pérdidas que sufrió en los episodios anteriores, que lo dejaron con punzantes dudas, Charles Leakey se prometió no volver a tomar un caso… Eso, claro, hasta que apareció la mujer adecuada tocando a su puerta. Esta vez, Leakey se vuelve a enfrentar a una pregunta truculenta: ¿dónde está nuestra mente?

¿Podrá nuestro héroe contestarla? ¿A quién podrá preguntarle esta ocasión? Más importante aún, ¿encontrará respuesta a todos aquellos huecos del pasado? ¿Realmente será el último caso de Charles Leakey, investigador privado? Escucha el tercer y, tal vez, último episodio de este personaje.

¡Que lo disfrutes!

____________________

Especialista:
Dra. María Magdalena Giordano Noyola, del Instituto de Neurobiología de la UNAM

Voces invitadas:
Yuritzki Sandoval
Aketzalli González
Axel Becerril

Agradecemos al IMER por la realización de este programa.

Aquí tienes nuestro feed para meternos en tu aplicación de podcast favorita: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:73907983/sounds.rss

Playlist completo en nuestra página de Soundcloud.

En la imagen, una obra de M.C Escher, tomada de este sitio: http://www.artfund.org/what-to-see/exhibitions/2015/10/14/the-amazing-world-of-mc-escher-exhibition