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The Leakey Legacy

13 Feb

MaryLeakey

The Leakey’s on a dig: Mary, Richard, Louis and  ” the Boys ”
Picture credit: Unknown,  although M.D. Leakey would be Mary

 

There were several new discoveries in the news today that had me salivating as I read them.

Well actually, more like lusting, as my College studies were in Anthropology/Ethnography, not Archaeology, but none the less, this is pretty mouth-watering breaking news for all Anthropologists and those interested in the Ancient Origins and History of Humans.

The links to the stories are below, in the meantime, here is a tiny personal tidbit.

Although Ethnography was my chosen sector of Anthropology to study, my interest had always been in the findings of the entire Leakey family and the great Rift Valley of East Africa, including Olduvai Gorge, or as one of my favorite Professors  always referred to it,   ” the elevator down into our past. “

While Louis, the son of Kenyan Missionaries among the Kikuyu people, was the one always in the spotlight, his wife Mary and son Richard were both quite well-respected and had earned the right to also be admired for their work.

Mary was most celebrated of course, for her discoveries of the Laetoli footprints  in Tanzania in 1978 and Richard had his own numerous notable finds.

In the Literary world, between the two of them, they penned quite a few excellent books, of course I have read them all and they now sit on a book-case next to me when I write.

A one of a kind photo taken of Louis while he was on a dig in Calico, California, many years ago,  looks down at me as I eat everyday, it  was a kindly, generous gift from the woman who led the site tour and asked me to follow her to her office afterwards. I had been more than a little chatty during the tour,  sharing my knowledge of the Leakey’s and I was sure she was going to chastise me for doing this. Not so, as it turned out, surprisingly, she took an envelope out of her drawer, smiling as she handed it to me saying,  ”  I cannot think of anyone who would treasure this more than you ” and gave me the soon to be life long treasure. On this point,  she was absolutely correct.

While my studies in Ethnography kept me quite busy all through my College studies,  Archaeology,  especially Paleontology,  the Leakey’s  and  Olduvai Gorge were always right there in the back of my mind. I spent countless hours and dollars finding books about any and all of it.

I was never really sure what  the most interesting thing about them was, their astonishing finds, their brilliant children, or their wonderful Dalmatians, ” the boys ” as Mary called them, who accompanied the family on many of their digs.

If I had to choose my favorite of all of my Anthropology classes,  it was most certainly Human Paleontology. I will never forget the terrifying Final Exam, which was a room filled with shelves and the nearly 100 skulls waiting to be identified sitting on them.

Shockingly,  I did pretty well on this Final Exam, (which was a Master’s level class not required for my Degree.)

Was it due perhaps,  to my obsessive reading and studying anything and everything about the Leakey’s? Probably~

Anyway,  now back to today’s exciting, well at least to some of us,  Ancient discoveries.

 

The stories are below, if this subject sounds of interest to you, do take a look:

The Epic Journey of our Species

Treasure trove of ‘absolutely wonderful,’ never-before-seen fossils uncovered in B.C.

 

 

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