Leakey, Meave G.


Leakey, Meave G.
▪ 2008
Meave Epps 
born July 28, 1942, London, Eng.

      By 2007 paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey had engaged in fossil-finding fieldwork in the study of human origins for more than 35 years, and as the wife of Richard Leakey (son of Louis and Mary Leakey), Meave formed part of a family of renowned paleoanthropologists who had conducted decades of pioneering research in eastern Africa. During the year, Meave was a lead author of a study in Nature magazine that went against the prevailing view of the ancestral lineage of Homo sapiens, namely, that the species H. habilis evolved into H. erectus in linear succession. In 2000 the Koobi Fora Research Project, which Leakey and her daughter Louise Leakey co-directed, had found fossil cranial specimens of H. habilis and H. erectus that dated from about 1.5 million years ago in an area east of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The study suggested that the two species coexisted in the area for about 500,000 years. The discovery was the latest in her career that helped to show that the evolution of hominins (modern humans and fossil species more closely related to modern humans than to other living species) was not as simple as a relatively sparse fossil record might have previously suggested.

      As a college student, Meave planned to be a marine zoologist, and she earned a B.S. in zoology and marine zoology from the University of North Wales, Bangor. Finding that there was a lack of positions for women on ocean expeditions, she began graduate work in zoology, and from 1965 to 1968 she worked as a zoologist at Tigoni Primate Research Centre outside Nairobi. At the centre, which was administered by Louis Leakey, she conducted doctoral research on the forelimb of modern monkeys, and she obtained a doctorate (1968) in zoology from the University of North Wales. Soon thereafter she joined a team led by Richard Leakey to explore new fossil sites near Lake Turkana. Meave and Richard were married in 1970, and they continued their research in the Lake Turkana area. In 1989, when Richard shifted his attention to wildlife conservation, Meave became the coordinator of the National Museums of Kenya's paleontological field research in the Turkana basin. She was also the head of the National Museums' Division of Paleontology from 1982 to 2001. In 1994 Leakey led a team that discovered the remains of a previously unknown species—Australopithecus anamensis—that was bipedal (walked upright) and, with an age of 4.1 million years, was one of the earliest hominins then known. One of Leakey's interests was in examining evidence at research sites to determine how the environment might have influenced hominin evolution, such as the development of bipedalism. In 2001 Meave and colleagues reported on the discovery of a 3.5-million-year-old skull that they determined belonged to a previously unknown hominin genus and species—Kenyanthropus platyops. The find challenged the conventional view that the specimen's contemporary, A. afarensis, was in the direct ancestral lineage of H. sapiens. In 2002 Leakey, along with her daughter Louise, was named an explorer in residence by the National Geographic Society. In addition to authoring many published scientific papers, Leakey was coeditor of The Koobi Fora Research Project, Volume I (1977) and Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa (2003).

David C. Hayes

* * *

▪ British paleoanthropologist
née  Meave Epps 
born July 28, 1942, London, Eng.

      British paleoanthropologist who was part of a family that gained renown for decades of pioneering hominin research in eastern Africa.

      As a college student, Epps planned to be a marine zoologist, and she earned a B.S. in zoology and marine zoology from the University of North Wales, Bangor. Finding that there was a lack of positions for women on ocean expeditions, she began graduate work in zoology, and from 1965 to 1968 she worked as a zoologist at Tigoni Primate Research Centre outside Nairobi. At the centre, which was administered by Louis Leakey (Leakey, Louis S.B.), she conducted doctoral research on the forelimb of modern monkeys, and she obtained a doctorate (1968) in zoology from the University of North Wales. Soon thereafter she joined a team led by Richard Leakey (Leakey, Richard) (son of Louis and Mary Douglas Leakey (Leakey, Mary Douglas)) to explore new fossil sites near Lake Turkana (Rudolf, Lake) in Kenya. Meave and Richard were married in 1970, and they continued their research in the Lake Turkana area.

      In 1989, when Richard shifted his attention to wildlife conservation, Meave became the coordinator of the National Museums of Kenya's paleontological field research in the Turkana basin. She was also the head of the National Museums' Division of Paleontology from 1982 to 2001. In 1994 Leakey led a team that discovered the remains of a previously unknown species—Australopithecus anamensis—that was bipedal (walked upright) and, with an age of 4.1 million years, was one of the earliest hominins (modern humans and fossil species more closely related to modern humans than to other living species) then known. One of Leakey's interests was in examining evidence at research sites to determine how the environment might have influenced hominin evolution, such as the development of bipedalism. In 2001 Meave and colleagues reported on the discovery of a 3.5-million-year-old skull that they determined belonged to a previously unknown hominin genus and species—Kenyanthropus platyops. The find challenged the conventional view that the specimen's contemporary, A. afarensis, was in the direct ancestral lineage of Homo sapiens. In 2002 Leakey, along with her daughter Louise, was named an explorer in residence by the National Geographic Society.

      In 2007 Leakey was a lead author of a study in Nature magazine that went against the prevailing view of the ancestral lineage of Homo sapiens, namely, that the species H. habilis evolved into H. erectus in linear succession. In 2000 the Koobi Fora Research Project, which Leakey and her daughter codirected, had found fossil cranial specimens of H. habilis and H. erectus that dated from about 1.5 million years ago in an area east of Lake Turkana. The study suggested that the two species coexisted in the area for about 500,000 years. The discovery helped to show that the evolution of hominins was not as simple as a relatively sparse fossil record might have previously suggested. In addition to authoring many published scientific papers, Leakey was coeditor of The Koobi Fora Research Project, Volume I (1977) and Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa (2003).

David C. Hayes
 

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Meave Leakey — Meave G. Leakey (born M. Epps on 28 July 1942 in London, England) is together with her husband Richard Leakey one of the most renowned contemporary paleontologists. She studies the origin of mankind in Africa. Contents 1 Flat Faced Man of Kenya 2 …   Wikipedia

  • Leakey — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Mary Leakey (1913–1996), Paläoanthropologin Ehefrau von Louis Leakey Louis Leakey (1903–1972), Paläoanthropologe Ehemann von Mary Leakey Jonathan Leakey (* 1940), Paläoanthropologe Sohn von Mary und Louis… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Meave Leakey — Pour les autres membres de la famille, voir : Leakey. Meave Leakey, née Meave Epps le 28 juillet 1942 à Londres, est une paléoanthropologue contemporaine spécialisée dans les anciens hominidés d Afrique de l Est. Sommaire 1 Déc …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Leakey, Richard — ▪ 1995       In January 1994 Richard Leakey resigned from his position as director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), after being accused of arrogance, corruption, and racism by high ranking Kenyan officials. The famed paleontologist and… …   Universalium

  • Leakey — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Personnages La famille Leakey est une famille de paléontologues. Louis Leakey (Sir Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey) (1903 1972), primatologue, paléontologue… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Meave Leakey — Meave (Epps) Leakey (* 28. Juli 1942 in London) gilt zusammen mit ihrem Mann Richard Leakey als eine der bedeutendsten PaläoanthropologInnen der Gegenwart. Sie gräbt und forscht rund um den Turkana See in Kenia nach fossilen Überresten früher… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leakey — es una dinastía de investigadores, arqueólogos, antropólogos y, especialmente paleontólogos, naturales de Kenia, descendientes de colonos de raza blanca: Louis Leakey es el fundador y patriarca de la familia, famoso investigador que revolucionó… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Leakey — may refer to:;people: *Colin Leakey (b. 1933), English botanist *David Leakey (b. 1952), British military general *Jonathan Leakey, businessman and former archaeologist *Louis Leakey (1903–1972), Kenyan archaeologist and naturalist *Louise Leakey …   Wikipedia

  • Leakey family — Family of archaeologists and paleoanthropologists known for their discoveries of hominid and other fossil remains in eastern Africa. Louis S.B. Leakey (b. 1903 d. 1972), born of British missionary parents, grew up in Kenya, was educated at… …   Universalium

  • Leakey, familia — Familia de arqueólogos y paleoantropólogos conocida por sus descubrimientos de homínidos y de otros restos fósiles en África oriental. Louis S.B. Leakey (n. 1903–m. 1972), hijo de misioneros británicos, creció en Kenia, estudió en la Universidad… …   Enciclopedia Universal


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