Born in Kenya, Louise Leakey has upheld her family legacy in the field of paleoanthropology. Daughter of renowned paleoanthropologists Meave and Richard Leakey, she has spent considerable time on field expeditions, having first set foot on the Turkana Basin site when she was just two months old.
A recent PhD graduate of The University of London, Louise now leads the annual expeditions to the Turkana Basin with her mother, Dr. Meave Leakey. There she focuses her research on the influence of changing climate on the evolution of indigenous animals between 3.3 and 1.6 million years ago.
On March 19, 2001, Louise and a group of scientists led by her mother Meave unearthed a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw said to belong to a new branch of our early human family. This well-publicized fossil was named Kenyanthropus platyops, or flat-faced man of Kenya. This amazing discovery, announced in the journal Nature, has profound implications in our understanding of the origins of mankind. In a front page story on March 22, 2001, The New York Times wrote that the discovery "threatens to overturn the prevailing view that a single line of descent stretched through the early stages of human ancestry." Currently, Louise is developing a long-term research initiative at Koobi Fora, East Turkana, where her concern for the welfare of the surrounding peoples has led her to generate increased funding for the local school and medical center.
Among her other pursuits, Louise occasionally works as a guide for palaeontological excursions and horse riding safaris in Kenya. She manages the Leakey family vineyard, is on the advisory board of Sea Shepherd Conservation International, and is a pilot of Light Aircraft. An avid photographer, she recently published some of her photos in the book Africa's Children as part of a charitable project for education.
NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from November 7, 2003.
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