Mary Leakey

Archaeologist, Academic

1913 – 1996

22

Who was Mary Leakey?

Mary Leakey was a British paleoanthropologist who discovered the first fossilized Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans. She also discovered the robust Zinjanthropus skull at Olduvai Gorge. For much of her career she worked with her husband, Louis Leakey, in the Olduvai Gorge, in eastern Africa, uncovering the tools and fossils of ancient hominines. Leakey developed a system for classifying the stone tools found at Olduvai. She discovered the Laetoli footprints. It was here, at the Laetoli site, that she discovered Hominin fossils that were more than 3.75 million-years-old.

During her career, Leakey discovered fifteen new species of other animals, and one new genus.

In 1972, after the death of her husband, Leakey became director of excavation at Olduvai. She helped to establish a Leakey family tradition of palaeoanthropology by training her son, Richard, in the field.

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Born
Feb 6, 1913
London
Also known as
  • Mary Douglas Leakey
  • Mary Douglas Nicol
  • Mary D. Leakey
Parents
Spouses
Children
Ethnicity
  • British people
Nationality
  • United Kingdom
Profession
Education
  • University College London
Lived in
  • Cabrerets
  • Kensington
Died
Dec 9, 1996
Nairobi

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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