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date: 29 May 2020

Leakey, Mary Douglas Nicol locked

1913–1996 British paleoanthropologist known for her discoveries of fossil remains that greatly advanced the study of human evolution.
  • Robert Fay

Extract

Mary Leakey’s deep interest in the study of prehistory began at the age of eleven, when she viewed cave paintings of the Dordogne in southern France. Although she later took courses in anthropology and geology at University College, London, and participated in excavations in England, she never earned a degree. In 1933 paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey asked her to illustrate a book he was writing. The two fell in love, married in 1936, and formed one of the most famous and successful scientific collaborations of the twentieth century.

Louis Leakey s controversial theories drove their research throughout much of their careers During the twenty years that the Leakeys spent attempting to prove that human evolution occurred in Africa and not Asia Mary developed rigorous excavation techniques that set the standard for paleoanthropological documentation and excavation A tireless worker after long days of carefully sifting the Olduvai earth for fossils ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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