February 6, 1913 (a Thursday)

Laetoli Site (Feb 2006)

On this date, the English archaeologist and paleoanthropologist Mary Douglas Leakey was born. She made several of the most important fossil finds subsequently interpreted and publicized by her husband, the noted anthropologist Louis Leakey. For every vivid claim made by Louis about the origins of man, the supporting evidence tended to come from Mary’s scrupulous scientific approach. After Louis’ death in 1972, she enjoyed her most spectacular find: three trails of fossilised hominid footprints 3.6 million years old, which she discovered at Laetoli in Tanzania (1978-9). They incontrovertibly demonstrated that ancestors of Homo sapiens were walking upright at a much earlier period than previously believed.

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