Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Mary Leakey

1913-1996
From: Kenya, United Kingdom
Fields: Anthropology, Archaeology
Key Words/Phrases: illustrator, palaeoanthropologist
 
Leakey, Mary D(ouglas) Nicol (1913- ), British paleoanthropologist. The daughter of a landscape painter, Leakey was born in England but traveled abroad during much of her childhood. She became committed to anthropology at the age of 11 on viewing the famed Cro-Magnon cave in southern France. She later took courses in anthropology and geology at University College, London, and became an expert in stone tools. She participated in excavations in England and in 1931 led a study of the Clactonian culture in Essex. She then joined the Anglo-Kenyan paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey's expeditions in Africa and married him in 1936. At the Olduvai Gorge in 1959, Mary Leakey found the 1,750,000-year-old skull of Zinjanthropus (later reclassified Australopithecus boisei), which first showed the great antiquity of hominids in Africa. At Laetoli, Tanzania, she discovered the 3,750,000-year-old jaws and teeth of a Homo species (1975) and the 3,600,000-year-old fossilized footprints of a bipedal hominid (1979). Her autobiography is Disclosing the Past (1984).

"Leakey, Mary D(ouglas) Nicol" Microsoft Encarta.
Copyright 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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