Louise Leakey hunts for hominid fossils in East Africa, in the family tradition.

Why you should listen

Louise Leakey is the third generation of her family to dig for humanity's past in East Africa. In 2001, Leakey and her mother, Meave, found a previously unknown hominid, the 3.5-million-year-old Kenyanthropus platyops, at Lake Turkana -- the same region where her father, Richard, discovered the "Turkana Boy" fossil, and near Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge, where her grandparents, Louise and Mary Leakey, discovered the bones of Homo habilis.

In August 2007 Louise and Meave, both National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, dug up new H. habilis bones that may rewrite humanity's evolutionary timeline. We imagine that we evolved from apes in an orderly progression from ape to hominid to human, but the Leakeys' find suggests that different species of pre-humans actually lived side by side at the same time for almost half a million years.

What others say

“[The] upper jaw bone of Homo habilis dates from 1.44 million years ago. This late survivor shows that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived side by side in eastern Africa for nearly half a million years.” — Koobi Fora Research Project

Louise Leakey’s TED talk

Louise Leakey on the TED Blog
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Culture

TED Fellow and space archaeologist Sarah Parcak heads to ancient Rome

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TED Fellow Sarah Parcak is a “space archaeologist” who uses infrared technology coupled with satellite imagery to discover previously hidden ancient structures and cities. In this exciting talk from TED2012, she shares how she helped unearth an unknown Ancient Egyptian city through satellite imaging. Now, Parcak is turning her attention to Ancient Rome in a […]

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Scientist claim: "Missing link" found

May 19, 2009

Update: On examination, this claim was agreed by many observers to be somewhat overblown. Today, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, a revolutionary discovery — one that will stand as a milestone for paleontologists and evolutionists everywhere — was announced. Scientists based at the University of Oslo have discovered “Ida,” also […]

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Quotes from Louise Leakey

If you want to become a fossil, you need to die somewhere where your bones will be rapidly buried. You then hope that the Earth moves in such a way as to bring the bones back up to the surface. And then you hope that one of us [paleontologists] will walk around and find small pieces of you.
Louise Leakey
TED2008 • 458K views Jul 2008
Informative, Fascinating
What is it that really makes us, us? It’s our collective intelligence. It’s our ability to write things down, our language and our consciousness.
Louise Leakey
TED2008 • 458K views Jul 2008
Informative, Fascinating