- NAME: Mary Leakey
- OCCUPATION: Anthropologist, Scientist
- BIRTH DATE: February 06, 1913
- DEATH DATE: December 09, 1996
- PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England, United Kingdom
- PLACE OF DEATH: Nairobi, Kenya
- Originally: Mary Douglas Nicol
- AKA: Mary Nicol
- AKA: Mary Douglas Leakey
- Full Name: Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey
- Nickname: "Grande Dame of Archeology"
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Mary Leakey was a paleoanthropologist who, along with husband Louis, made several prominent scientific discoveries. Skull fossils found by the Leakeys advanced our understanding of human evolution.
Mary Leakey’s discovery of early human fossils helped scientists to further understand the origins of humankind.
At age 50 Darwin revealed the theory of evolution in the Origin of Species.
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After Louis Leakey died in 1972, Mary continued to research and hunt for fossils. Nearly two decades after finding Homo habilis, in 1979, she discovered a trail of early human footprints at Laetoli, a site in Tanzania. The find was the first in the history of science to provide direct evidence of physical activity by humankind's apelike ancestors,
changing previously held assumptions about primates.
Throughout her decades-long career as a paleoanthropologist, Mary Leakey's projects were funded in part by the National Geographic Society, through dozens of grants. She chronicled her experiences in the 1979 book Olduvai Gorge: My Search for Early Man, as well as in her 1984 autobiography Disclosing the Past.
Mary Leakey died on December 9, 1996, in Nairobi, Kenya. She was survived by three sons (from husband Louis Leakey): Richard, Jonathan and Philip. Today, Mary Leakey's work continues through both the Leakey Foundation and the younger generations of the Leakey family: Richard Leakey, his wife, Meave, and their daughter, Louise, play active roles in carrying on the family legacy.
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Learn more about The Leakey Foundation and its mission to increase understanding of human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival.
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