Kenyan paleontologist Dr. Louise Leakey to speak at Augustana

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Dr. Louise Leakey, a paleontologist, conservationist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, will give a lecture on Thursday, Oct. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall inside the Denkmann Memorial Hall (3520 7th Ave.). The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Leakey is credited with helping to discover a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw in 1999, believed to belong to a new branch of early hominids—Kenyanthropus platyops. Her work is said to have shaped modern thinking on the journey of humanity over the past 4 million years.

With most of her work centered in the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya, Dr. Leakey spends much of her time on field expeditions and also co-directs the Koobi Fora Research Project with her mother.

Dr. Leakey represents the third generation of paleontologists in her family, continuing the legacy her grandparents, Louis and Mary Leakey, and parents, Richard and Meave Leakey. The family's work began when Louis and Mary found evidence of human origins in Africa; Dr. Louise Leakey first visited the region at age 6 weeks, and witnessed the discovery of a major fossil as a child.

She is quoted as saying, "At age 12, the discovery of the Homo erectus from the west side of Turkana was a very exciting time, because we were at that site for quite a long period. We were able to engage and help and excavate it. There was a real sense of excitement about that excavation."

She received her doctorate from London University and is now an adjunct assistant professor in the department of anthropology at the Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y., where she is helping develop a major center for human origins research.

This lecture at Augustana is provided by the Lawrence H. Roys Endowment at Augustana College, which honors the memory of Lawrence Roys as an engineer, businessman and nationally acclaimed natural scientist.

On the day of the lecture, Augustana's Fryxell Geology Museum (820 38th St.) will extend its hours and be open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The museum houses a large collection of minerals and fossils, a wall of glowing, fluorescent rocks, a cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, and a 22-foot fossil skeleton of Cryolophosaurus ellioti, a large carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica by Augustana paleontologist Dr. William Hammer.