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If you like Meave Leakey's story, you might also like:
Robert Ballard,
Lee Berger,
Sylvia Earle,
Gertrude Elion,
Jane Goodall,
Stephen Jay Gould,
Donald Johanson,
Richard Leakey,
Ernst Mayr,
Sally Ride,
Richard Schultes,
Donna Shirley,
Kent Weeks,
Tim White and
Edward O. Wilson

Related Links:
Meave Leakey
Leakey Foundation
Turkana Basin

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Meave Leakey
Meave Leakey
Profile of Meave Leakey Biography of Meave Leakey Interview with Meave Leakey Meave Leakey Photo Gallery

Meave Leakey Profile

Pioneering Paleoanthropologist

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  Meave Leakey

As a little girl in England, Meave Epps took a keen interest in the natural sciences, but the school she attended didn't teach science, because it wasn't thought necessary for girls. Even after obtaining a degree in marine zoology, she found few doors open to women in the sciences. Her life changed dramatically when she answered an ad in the back pages of The Times of London to work in Kenya with the celebrated Leakey family of paleoanthropologists. She married Richard Leakey in 1970, and when he accepted an appointment to run the Kenya Wildlife Service, she took over leadership of their institute's annual expedition.

In 1994, her team found a set of hominid fossils that suggested the existence of an unknown species, walking upright 4.1 million years ago, half a million years earlier than previously thought. In 2001, the discovery of a complete hominid skull revealed the existence of another unknown species, of an entirely different genus from the only previously known hominid of that time, the species of the celebrated "Lucy" skeleton. This suggests that two separate hominid lineages already existed 3.5 million years ago.

Meave Leakey's discoveries have altered our understanding of how our earliest ancestors first came to walk upright; in the future she hopes to uncover the origins of human manual dexterity. Now that Richard and Meave's daughter, Louise, has entered the field, it appears that the family heritage of discovery will continue into another generation.

This page last revised on Sep 14, 2007 12:02 EDT
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