We love it when the Google Doodles celebrate interesting and important people in the realms of science, and today is no exception. The contributions of Mary Leakey to the realms of archaeology and anthropology, especially in the understanding of human evolution, can’t be understated, and she gets her due via today’s Doodleon what would have been her 100th birthday.
Mary’s life story represents a classic tale of a person for whom formal education just didn’t work. But once she discovered archaeology, and found her way onto a number of UK digs, her fate was sealed. When already-renowned scientist Louis Leakey needed an illustrator for a book, she got the job, and ended up marrying him and moving to Africa where they ran numerous digs, especially in the Olduvai valley, and made a tremendous series of discoveries in the 1950s. By 1960, while Louis worked as Curator of the Coryndon Museum, Mary was running the sites in the valley (always accompanied by their Dalmatian dogs, as represented in the Doodle), where they would eventually discover and categorize the human ancestor Homo Habilis, and later the Laetoli Footprints, which would prove that hominids were walking upright a million years before the earliest tool use had been seen. There are many places online to learn more about Mary and Louis’ work, and the ongoing work of their also-famous children who have continue their parents’ work, but best would likely be the Leakey Foundation itself.
Happy Birthday Mary Leakey!