571: Happy Birthday, Mary Leakey!
Today marks the 100th birthday of British Paleoanthropologist, Mary Leakey (1913-1996). If you haven’t noticed already, she is featured in today’s “Google Doodle”, which is how I came to learn about her–thanks Google!
In a nutshell, Mrs. Leakey is famous for her discoveries of ancient tools, footprints, and skulls, including the first fossilized Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans. Librarians will be pleased to know that she also developed a method for classifying the ancient tools that she and her husband discovered on an expedition in Olduvai Gorge, Africa. Not only did she have excellent organizational skills, but she was also a talented illustrator. you can see her field drawings of stone axes, hammers, and scrapers in our copy of Adam’s Ancestors (1934), a book about human fossils written by her husband, Louis Leakey. In the preface, Louis credits her illustrations using her maiden name, Nicols. They were married two years after the book was published, so I guess you could say they really “dug” each other (yes, I’m a pun dork).
For more information about Mary Leakey, check out Disclosing the Past, her 1984 autobiography. It is available in the stacks at Central Library. You can make a request for it on our website, or just ask one of us to grab it for you when you’re here.
Note: The images in this post are from the fourth edition of Adam’s Ancestors (1960). They are details from figures 17, and 29. This edition is also available at the St. Louis Public Library.