Louis Leakey did more than anyone else to make paleoanthropology a well-known field of study. The search for human beginnings had become synonymous with his name by the time he passed away 30 years ago this month. Leakey was a relentless showman who tirelessly promoted his discoveries to appreciative audiences all over the world. In addition to being a passionate naturalist and astute chronicler. What did Leakeys discover in Olduvai? Let’s begin.
Why Is Olduvai So Important?
The earliest signs of early human predecessors can be found in Tanzania at Olduvai Gorge. Numerous fossilized bones and stone tools dating back millions of years have discovered nearby. And paleoanthropologists have deduced that humans first appeared in Africa. Paleontologists adore its geology. Four different beds are cut through by a river, the oldest of which is roughly 2 million years old.
Which Fossil Discovery Was Found In Olduvai Gorge In East Africa?
Louis and Mary Leakey discovered stone tools in Olduvai and other locations starting in the late 1930s. They also discovered some extinct vertebrates, such as the 25-million-year-old Proconsul primate. One of the original and few fossilized ape skulls discovered. Due to political unrest in neighboring Kenya, their work in Olduvai Gorge had been put on hold. But they eventually returned in the late 1950s. The Leakeys fascinated with prehistoric tools. But they were increasingly concerned about locating proof of the humans who manufactured them. Yes, they did in 1959.
In 1960, Louis Leakey published an article about their discovery in National Geographic. He was feverish and had a bad headache. They would have to leave the site if he became worse, so Mary Leakey demanded he takes the day off and heals. Mary reported for duty as usual. She discovered fossilized pieces of an unidentified hominid’s upper teeth and cranium that day. Eroding out of a region close to Bed I. Over 400 parts of an almost full skull discovered by the Leakeys over the following three weeks. It wasn’t too unlike the remains that Robert Broom and Raymond Dart discovered in 1936 and 1924, respectively, in South Africa.
Due to how they discovered and the lack of dating equipment, those discoveries had not properly dated. However, the Leakeys believed their discovery to be distinctive enough to represent a new subgroup of hominids. And they gave it the name Zinjanthropusboisei. Its estimated lifespan of 1.75 million years makes it the oldest hominid to have discovered.
At Olduvai, Mary Leakey and her son Jonathan discovered a smaller form of hominid in 1960 that they thought was distinct and more developed. Because it appeared to be the first person to utilize tools, they named it Homo habilis. There was a considerable lot of debate surrounding the designation of these two new categories. Most scientists now classify Zinjanthropus as a member of the Australopithecus genus, to which the South African discoveries also belong, albeit in distinct species.
Thus, Leakey’s discover in Olduvai were amazing and popularized the study of paleoanthropology. More funding for expeditions made possible by public support and interest. As a result of the numerous fossils found in East Africa over the following ten years. There is now a better understanding of the early history of humans.