Richard Leakey Biography, Wiki, Age, Career, Death, Cause of Death | Who was Richard Leakey? Bio, Wiki

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Who was Richard Leakey?

Richard Leakey FRS (19 December 1944 – 2 January 2022) was a Kenyan palaeoanthropologist, conservationist, and politician.

Leakey held a number of official positions in Kenya, mostly in institutions of archaeology and wildlife conservation. He had been Director of the National Museum of Kenya, founded the NGO WildlifeDirect, and was the chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey dies at 77

Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey dies at 77
Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey dies at 77

Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, known for his fossil-finding and conservation work in his native Kenya, has died at 77, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced.

The cause of death was not announced.

Leakey, the son of globally renowned anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, also held a number of public service leadership roles including director of the National Museums of Kenya and what became the Kenya Wildlife Service, President Kenyatta’s statement said.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the news of the death of our founder,” the conservation group WildlifeDirect said.

The group’s chief executive, Paula Kahumbu, said Leakey had “a natural sense of leadership, old-fashioned but straightforward. His memory was super sharp and his ability to hold many ideas in the air at once to find common threads was phenomenal. He will be dearly missed.”

Richard Leakey Biography, Wiki

Richard Erskine Leakey was born in Nairobi, Kenya, a grandson of English missionaries. His father and mother, Louis and Mary Leakey, were distinguished paleontologists who had pioneered the archaeological exploration of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa.

The second of three brothers, Richard Leakey spent his childhood trailing after his parents on archaeological digs, searching for the fossils of extinct species and human ancestors. He found his first fossil when he was only six — the jaw of an extinct species of giant pig — but he was more interested in tracking living animals in the wild.

In 1959, Mary Leakey discovered the fossilized cranium of an extinct hominid, Zinjanthropus, in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The discovery of a human ancestor of unprecedented antiquity focused the anthropological community’s attention on Africa as the cradle of mankind and brought the Leakey family international renown.

But at 16, Richard Leakey wanted no part of squatting under the African sun, scratching the dirt for fossils. He dropped out of school and struck out on his own. He trapped animals and collected skeletons for research institutions, learned to fly, and started a business taking tourists on photographic safaris.

Richard Leakey Biography Wikipedia
Richard Leakey
BornRichard Erskine Frere Leakey
19 December 1944
Nairobi, British Kenya
Died2 January 2022 (aged 77)
NationalityKenyan
Spouse(s)Margaret Cropper​​(m. 1965; div. 1969)
​Meave Epps ​(m. 1970)​
Children3, including Louise Leakey
Parent(s)Louis Leakey
Mary Douglas Leakey (nee Nicol)
AwardsHubbard Medal (1994)
Scientific career
FieldsPalaeoanthropology; Conservation
InstitutionsStony Brook University

Richard Leakey Career

Building upon the legacy of his parents, Richard Leakey continued to work toward the understanding of human evolution. In 1969, his discovery of a cranium of Australopithecus boisei caused great excitement.

Homo habilis skull (ER 1470) and a Homo erectus skull (ER 3733), discovered in 1972 and 1975, respectively, were among the most significant finds of Leakey’s early expeditions. In 1978, an intact cranium of Homo erectus (KNM-ER 3883) was discovered.

In 1984 he made his most important discovery—”Turkana Boy,” discovered by Kamoya Kimeu, a member of Leakey’s’ team, was the nearly complete skeleton of a 12-year-old (or possibly 9-year-old) Homo erectus who died 1.6 million years ago. It was one of the first well-preserved skeletons of that origin ever found. Leakey and Roger Lewin described the experience of this find in their book Origins Reconsidered (1992).

Shortly after the discovery of Turkana Boy, Leakey and his team discovered a skull of a new species, Australopithecus aethiopicus (WT 17000). Both discoveries were important in establishing the theory of African origins of human beings.

In his writings with Lewin, Leakey proposed that the australopithecines co-existed with homo habilis three million years ago. Subsequently, the australopithecines became extinct, and homo habilis evolved into homo erectus, the direct ancestor of homo sapiens, modern human beings.

Richard Leakey Publications

  • Leakey, Richard. 1984. One Life: An Autobiography. Salem House Publishers.
  • Leakey, Richard. 1993. Man-ape, ape-man: The quest for human’s place in nature and Dubois’ “missing link”. Netherlands Foundation for Kenya Wildlife Service. 
  • Leakey, Richard. 1996. The Origin of Humankind. HarperCollins Publishers. 
  • Leakey, Richard. 2003. Great Civilizations. Fog City Press. 
  • Leakey, Richard & King Preston. 1987. An African Winter. Puffin.
  • Leakey, Richard & Lewin Roger. 1991. Origins : The Emergence and Evolution of Our Species and Its Possible Future. Penguin Press.
  • Leakey, Richard & Lewin Roger. 1992. Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human. Anchor.
  • Leakey, Richard & Lewin Roger. 1995. The Sixth Extinction. Mass Extinction Underway.
  • Leakey, Richard & Morell Virginia. 2002. Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa’s Natural Treasures. St. Martin’s Griffin.

Richard Leakey FAQ’s

Who was Richard Leakey?

Richard Leakey FRS (19 December 1944 – 2 January 2022) was a Kenyan palaeoanthropologist, conservationist, and politician.

How did Richard Leakey?

The cause of death was not announced.

How old was Richard Leakey?

Richard Leakey died at the age of 78.

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