Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Kenya, he grew up played, and learned to hunt with Africans. He also learned to walk with the distinctive gait of the Kikuyu and speak their language as fluently as English. At 13, after discovering stone tools, he began to develop his lifelong passion for prehistory. He studied at Cambridge University, graduating in 1926. He discovered several human and proto-human skeletons or partial skeletons at Olduvai Gorge and Rusinga Island , firmly outlining man's early ancestral tree. Among his many extraordinary finds was the 1959 unearthing of 'Zinjanthropus', a robust hominid that hinted at the great complexity of mankind's evolutionary roots.
One of Leakey's greatest legacies stems from his role in fostering field research of primates in their natural habitats, which he understood as key to unraveling the mysteries of human evolution. Leakey chose three female researchers, later dubbed 'Leakey's Angels ', who each went on to become giants in the field of primatology. Jane Goodall became the first of Leakey's Angels in 1957, when she began her first field study of chimpanzee culture in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. In 1967, Dian Fossey became Leakey's second Angel, beginning her extended study of [[mountain gorillas] in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda. In 1971, Biruté Galdikas became the third, when she began field studies of Orangutans in the jungles of Borneo.
Prominent family members
Louis Leakey was married to Mary Leakey, who made perhaps the most important discovery in Palaeolithic archeology, the Laetoli footprints . The footprints, which established the earliest record of truly bipedal gait, were found preserved in volcanic ash in Tanzania.
Passing of a giant
Louis Leakey died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 69.
- LeakeyFoundation.org - The Leakey Foundation: committed to research related to human origins
- TalkOrigins.org - Louis Leakey
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