Louise Leakey at Augustana College
October 04, 2012A woman who's played a key role in understanding the early history of human beings will speak at Augustana College tonight. Paleontologist and conservationist, Louise Leakey, is the third generation of her family to study our origins in Kenya, in east Africa.
As a child she dreamed of becoming a marine biologist, but was also drawn to the "family business" - following in the footsteps of her grand-parents and parents.
"I got involved in pre-history - I grew up doing that alongside my parents during summer holidays, and learning quite a lot about it. And circumstances led me into following that as a career path."
She says humans evolved into their current form, in Africa, about 200,000 years ago. 75,000 years ago they began leaving the continent and moving north through Asia, and their descendants began arriving in North America 15,000 years ago.
Currently, Doctor Leakey is focusing on education - figuring out ways to take three-dimensional images of the fossils discovered in Kenya, and making them available, on-line, to schools and anyone else interested around the world.
" A two dimensional image in a magazine or newspaper only says so much. But if you can rotate the image and look at it from different angles, at high resolution, it allows you to ask and answer different questions. I think that's exciting to provide the tools for people to do that now."
In the U.S., Doctor Leakey is on the faculty of the State University of New York, at Stony Brook, where she's helping develop a center for the study of human origins.
Her lecture begins at 7:30 pm, in Wallenberg Hall - it's free and open to the public.