Google has an eccentric penchant for celebrating historic figures or events in the form of a doodle that takes over its search page. Today, its the turn of Mary Leakey, the world famous British archeologist and anthropologist, on her 100th birth anniversary. The doodle encapsulates what Mary Leakey was known for – her love for archaeology tools, the Laetoli footprints, her discoveries in barren East Africa and her love for Dalmatians. It could perhaps also be a depiction of her excavation work as she was known to be accompanied by her dalmatians.
Born on February 6, 1913, Mary Leakey made a name for herself on the basis of her discoveries and the exploration of fossil hominies. For a large part of her career she was know to collaborate with her husband Louis Leakey whom she met in 1933 as a 20-year-old. Later even her three sons entered this field. Perhaps her greatest discoveries include the first fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans, and the robust Zinjanthropus skull at Olduvai Gorge.
Along with her husband, the couple has been credited with discovering the tools and fossils of ancient hominines. She also developed a system for classifying the stone tools found at Olduvai, and discovering the Laetoli footprints. In particular for this she received recognition as she was able to provide strong evidence of bipedalism in Pliocene hominids.
Mary Leakey along with her husband found fossils in Tanzania and Kenya that indicated mans evolution began in East Africa approximately 2 million years ago. Three months before her death she had proclaimed that it would be impossible for scientists to pin-point when exactly early-man fully developed into a human.
Her greatness needs to be taken into context as she never had any formal education in archeology and palaeontology. In fact some of her greatest discoveries were made after her husband passed away in 1972. In 1978 she discovered footprints frozen for 3.5 million years in volcanic mud, which clarified that the early hominids walked much more upright than it was believed to be.
She passed away on December 9, 1996 at the 83 in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.