Leakey , Richard Erskine
(1944–) Kenyan anthropologist
Richard Leakey was born at Nairobi in Kenya, the son of the famous scholars Louis and Mary Leakey. Having left school at sixteen, he first worked as a hunter and animal collector before turning in 1964 to the search for fossil humans. His parents had spent much of their lives exploring the Rift Valley and working at Olduvai in Northern Tanzania.
In contrast Leakey undertook his first field trip to the Omo valley in Ethiopia. In 1965 he shifted his interest to Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, concentrating his work in the Koobi Fora area. At the same time he was appointed to the directorship of the Kenya National Museum, Nairobi.
In 1972 he made his first major find at Koobi Fora. This was a skull with a brain capacity of about 800 cc, given the number 1470. Leakey identified 1470 as Homo rather than an australopithecine precursor, and took it to be Homo habilis. The age of the skull, however, was in dispute varying from 1.8 to 2.4 million years; the former age was eventually accepted.
In 1975 a second skull was found, this time Homo erectus, a more advanced form than 1470. By this time Leakey was finding that the demands of administration, producing TV series, and writing popular accounts of his work were limiting his research activities. Moreover, he suffered the onset of kidney failure in 1979. The donation of a kidney by his brother Philip restored Leakey to what he termed in his autobiography One Life (1983), the beginning of his “second life.” Much of this second life has been devoted to conservation and Leakey has been a leading figure in the fight to preserve the African elephant by banning the trade in ivory. In 1990 he was appointed director and executive chairman of the Kenyan Wildlife Service.
However, during his fight against ivory smugglers, Leakey made many enemies. His determination, outspokenness, and ruthlessness alienated him from many leading Kenyan politicians and administrators. Consequently, in 1994, he resigned his post with the Kenyan Wildlife Service and decided to enter politics, despite an airplane crash in 1993 that led to the amputation of both legs. In 1995 Leakey formed a new political party, Safina (Noah's Ark), and announced his intention to challenge the ruling KANU (Kenya African National Union) in the next elections.
Throughout his career Leakey has described the development of humans in terms similar to those adopted by his father. He has rejected the claims of Don Johanson that ‘Lucy’,Australopithecus afarensis, is a joint ancestor of Homo as well as the australopithecines first described by Raymond Dart. Leakey has continued to claim that it is too simple to present the human evolutionary tree as having only two branches; rather, there were at least three, and it was more than likely that future discoveries would add to the number. Human evolution, for Leakey, seems more like a bush than a tree.

Scientists. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Richard Erskine Leakey — (* 19. Dezember 1944 in Nairobi) gehört zusammen mit seiner Frau Meave Leakey in zweiter Generation zu einer weltweit bekannten Familie bedeutender Paläoanthropologen. Er fand am Turkana See u.a. fossile Schädel von Homo habilis und Homo erectus …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 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

  • Richard Erskine Leakey — noun English paleontologist (son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey) who continued the work of his parents; he was appointed director of a wildlife preserve in Kenya but resigned under political pressure (born in 1944) • Syn: ↑Leakey, ↑Richard… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Richard Leakey — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase Leakey. Richard Erskine Frere Leakey …   Wikipedia Español

  • Leakey — noun 1. English paleontologist (son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey) who continued the work of his parents; he was appointed director of a wildlife preserve in Kenya but resigned under political pressure (born in 1944) • Syn: ↑Richard Leakey,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Richard Leakey — noun English paleontologist (son of Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey) who continued the work of his parents; he was appointed director of a wildlife preserve in Kenya but resigned under political pressure (born in 1944) • Syn: ↑Leakey, ↑Richard… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Richard Leakey — Richard Erskine Frere Leakey (born 19 December 1944 in Nairobi, Kenya), is a Kenyan politician, paleoanthropologist and conservationist. He is second of the three sons of the archaeologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey, and is the younger brother …   Wikipedia

  • Richard Leakey — im Jahr 1972 Richard Erskine Leakey (* 19. Dezember 1944 in Nairobi) gehört zusammen mit seiner Frau Meave Leakey in zweiter Generation zu einer weltweit bekannten Familie bedeutender Paläoanthropologen. Er fand am Turkana See u. a. fossile… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leakey —   [ liːkɪ],    1) Louis Seymour Bazett, kenianischer Paläontologe und Prähistoriker britischer Abkunft, * Kabete (bei Nairobi) 7. 8. 1903, ✝ London 1. 10. 1972, Ȋ mit 2), Vater von 3); entdeckte 1932 bei Kanam und Kanjera primitive Steinwerkzeuge …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Leakey — /lee kee/, n. 1. Louis Seymour Bazett /baz it/, 1903 72, British archaeologist and anthropologist. 2. Mary (Douglas), 1913 96, British archaeologist (wife of Louis Leakey). 3. their son, Richard (Erskine Frere) /frear/, born 1944, Kenyan… …   Universalium

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