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  Years of Field Work:

Leakey Luck?
"It’s perseverence"

B. Sc. and Ph.D. in Zoology for the University of North Wales, UK

Year of Birth:

Childhood Hobby:
Doing jigsaw puzzles with the pieces turned upside down.

"You’re always expecting to find something."

Heir Apparent:
Daughter Louise

“One of these early
hominids was ancestral to us, but we don’t know which. It could well be something we haven’t yet


Watch an interview with Dr. Meave Leakey as she talks about the discovery of a new human ancestor.
Real Audio    Windows Media

Institute of Human Origins
Get news on the latest developments in paleontology, find a list of additional sources including a glossary of terms, and watch a documentary in
broadband, hosted by institute director and Lucy’s discoverer, Donald Johanson.

The Leakey Foundation
Learn more about the Leakey family history and the projects funded by their foundation.

The National Museums of Kenya
Learn more about resources for researchers including the Institute of Primate Research, started by Dr. Louis Leakey in 1960.


Field Dispatch: Kenya

Photographs by Robert Campbell Copyright National Museums of Kenya Email this page to a friend

Ask Leakey

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Click here to review weekly postings.
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This Week’s Questions. Click on a question for a full response.

1.  Are women fully accepted in paleoanthropology? 4.  What’s the most exciting time period?
2.  Are we in a golden age of paleoanthropology? 5.  Could K. platyops and A. africanus have lived side by side?
3.  What do you hope to find next? 6.  Climate change and K. platyops?

Name:Jane Olney
Subject:Women accepted?
Do you think that now women are fully accepted in the field of paleoanthropology? Are they still rare in the field? Are there still gender-based obstacles to them becoming paleoanthropologists?
Leakey’s Answer:
Yes I think that women are accepted in the field and although they are still rare their numbers are certainly increasing. The obstacles are the same as in other fields and I do not believe these obstacles are specific to palaeoanthroplogy.
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Name:James Baylis
Subject:Golden age?
Are we in a golden age of paleoanthropology, with major finds coming with greater frequency?
Leakey’s Answer:
It does seem to be that way. I am not sure why. Perhaps there are more field teams working in the right places or perhaps it is just coincidence. Let us hope it continues!
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Name:Mike Samuels
What do you most hope to find next?
Leakey’s Answer:
I would really like to find more evidence of Kenyanthropus to support the scanty evidence that we now have. And I would particularly like to find evidence of the skeleton to learn how this ancestor walked and whether the morphology of the hand was similar to ours.
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Name:Ellen Barclay
Subject:Most Exciting?
What do you think the most exciting time period to work in concerning hominid evolution is and why?
Leakey’s Answer:
Undoubtedly the most exciting time to be working at present is the time interval close to six million years ago. The new finds we are making now are crucial in our reconstruction of the earliest human ancestors and to our understanding of why our own lineage split from that of the apes. These questions are the key to everything that folllowed.
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Name:Sam George
Subject:Side by side
Could Kenyanthropus platyops and Australopithecus africanus have lived side by side, at the same time, in the same place?
Leakey’s Answer:
I expect that they could, but we do not know enough about their ecological requirements to be sure. So far we have not found them together at one fossil site.
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Name:Tim McCleary
Subject:Climate change
What might climate change have had to do with the emergence of K. platyops and other hominids of that period?
Leakey’s Answer:
I am not sure about climate change but I believe that environmental change (which may have been climatically driven) was important. Changes in habitat and ecology drive evolutionary change as species adapt to the new habitats. I suspect that new feeding opportunities that appeared as a result of habitat changes led to the emergence of Kenyanthropus. We have evidence of major habitat changes at about 7 million years that resulted from the diversification of grasses, and these may well have led to the emergence of Kenyanthropus ancestors.
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