Leakey Foundation celebrates 100 years of human origins discovery

San Francisco - Who are we and where did we come from? In the quest to answer these fundamental questions about human origins, no one has had a greater or more lasting impact than Louis Leakey (1903-1972).

Today many of Louis Leakey's theories are accepted as scientific fact, but this was not always the case. Along with his wife Mary, Leakey pioneered the survey and excavation of hominid and archeological sites in Eastern Africa, believing Africa to be the continent where humans first emerged. He conceived the first long-term behavior studies of wild apes that have shed light on human social relations. And he established the Pan African Congress as the first international body of scholars dedicated to human prehistory.

The centennial of Louis Leakey's birth coincides with an unusually productive period in human origins research. Important new fossil discoveries reported in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa are changing the way we understand the course of human evolution. New insights provided by long-term behavioral field studies and innovative technologies, including DNA analysis, have revolutionized our understanding of the relationship between humans and apes.

"This convergence of approaches has accelerated the pace of discovery," said Bob Lasher, Executive Director of The Leakey Foundation, the leading private funder of human origins research worldwide. "Since we owe the emerging picture of the human story largely to Louis Leakey, we felt that the Centennial provided an important moment of assessment--to consider the early influence of Louis Leakey as an architect of this science, as well as to refocus our efforts upon the lingering questions of the human past."

Dozens of the world's leading anthropologists, geologists, biologists and evolutionary scientists including Louis and Mary Leakey's granddaughter Louise Leakey will mark the 100th anniversary of Louis Leakey's birth at a two-day Centennial Tribute presented by

Contact: Jessica Jaffe
The Leakey Foundation

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