Purchased a FORA.tv video on another website? Login here with the temporary account credentials included in your receipt.
Paleontologist Meave Leakey has made significant contributions to our understanding of human origins, continuing the legacy begun in 1931 by Louis S. B. Leakey with his discoveries of ancient fossils in Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge. Over the years the Leakey family members—Louis, Mary, Richard, Meave, and Louise—have received numerous National Geographic research grants.
After completing her first degree at the University of North Wales, Meave came to Kenya to work for Dr. Louis Leakey at his primate research center near Nairobi. At the same time she collected data for her doctoral dissertation, which she completed in 1968.
In 1969, at the invitation of Richard Leakey, Meave joined a field expedition to the paleontological site of Koobi Fora on the eastern shores of Kenya's Lake Turkana. This launched her long-term work on the Turkana Basin research project. Meave has worked at the National Museums of Kenya since 1969 and was head of the division of paleontology from 1982 to 2001. In 1989 she became coordinator of the museums' field research in the Turkana Basin. Her work at nearby Kanapoi in 1994 yielded some of the earliest hominids known, dated at more than four million years.
The Leakeys currently run a research station at Lake Turkana to facilitate data collection and the study of new specimens. Their ongoing annual expeditions to this area continue to recover important hominid and faunal remains. In 1999, on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition to the Turkana Basin, Meave and Louise uncovered a 3.5-million-year-old skull and partial jaw believed to belong to a new branch of early human named Kenyanthropus platyops. This remarkable discovery, announced in the journal Nature, has profound implications in understanding the origins of mankind.