"Basically, I have been compelled by curiosity."
-Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey
Mary Leakey did not live a boring life. Her life was an adventure of constant discovery.
Where It All Started
On February 6, 1913, this world gained a girl who would make some of the greatest discoveries in science. Mary Leakey was born in London, England to the Nicol family. Mary was an only child, and was constantly traveling. Her father was a painter and the family was constantly traveling to exhibit his art. Mary was privileged enough to experience life in numerous places such as Switzerland, France, Italy and multiple others.Unfortunately, at the mere age of thirteen, Mary's father died (58 years old).
As mentioned in "Where It All Started", Mary did not have much schooling. When Mary's father passed away however, Mary and her mother moved back to London, England. In moving, Mary started to attend school. But, Mary's fathers death struck a tinge of rebellion in Mary, resulting in expulsion from two Catholic schools. Mary claimed that these schools were, "Wholly unconnected with the realities of life". Mary then continued studying at the University College London, attending courses in archaeology and geology.
Mary Leakey was an archaeologist and anthropologist for most of her life. But she also worked other jobs too. One of these jobs was a scientific illustrator. Her illustrations for The Desert Fayoum , a book by anthropologist Gertrude Canton-Thompson, that introduced Mary her husband, Louis Leakey (1933).
Mary as an archaeologist, made many discoveries. Although I can not name them all, I ca name many. One being a 89-foot long well-preserved trail of early human footprints. This trail was discovered in Laetoli in 1979. These footprints are said to be 3.6 million years old.
Continuing, Mary also found a 1.75 million year old skull. This skull belong to what is known as the Zinjanthropus boisei. This is what s known to be the first hominin species to use stone tools. This was just another piece to the puzzle of the evolution of mankind; without this discovery, we would not know what we do today.
This is not all Mary found, but these are some of the greatest discoveries she discovered.
Mary Leakey was also successful in winning awards. She was the recipient of numerous awards including the Gold Medal of Society of Women Geographers. Furthermore she won the Gold Medal of the Royal Swedish Academy, The Elizabeth Blackwell Award nad an honorary membership in the American Association for he Advancement of Science. Mary also won an ample amount of other awards. As you can see, Mary did not just find a few fossils, she found some of the greatest things in science.
The Legacy Continues
On December 9, 1996, Mary Leakey passed away. Mary at the time was in Nairobi, Kenya. Mary was 83 years old. Mary's family did not state the cause of her death but did insure that Mary went peacefully. Although Mary is not with us now, what she discovered will always be known.
Other "Fun Facts" On Mary Leakey
- Mary had 3 children; Richard, Jonathan, and Philip
- Some of Mary's findings are about 3.75 million-years-old.
- Many of Mary's more minor discoveries were found with her husband Louis Leakey, a fellow archaeologist.
- Mary Leakey wrote her very own book, Disclosing the Past.