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Human Origins and Evolutions of Humans

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                                    Human Origins and Evolutions of humans.

One of life greatest mysteries it’s some of the questions that for centuries we have ponder about: Where did we come from and how did we get here? While we may not be able to fully answer those questions right now, there have been a number of people throughout history that have contributed to answer and explore our past.  Darwin started the contributions with his theory of evolution, later on a pioneer of human origins Dr. Louis Leakey continued the search for proof around the world so that we can all learn more about where we came from as species.

Dr. Louis Leakey came to the United States in 1960 to lecture and raise money. He met with some enthusiasts intellectuals and together started the Leakey Foundation. The Organization’s main goal it’s to educate the public about human origins and the evolution of our species, as well as funding research via grants for researchers around the globe.1

The research and breakthroughs that were achieved by the foundation would have not been possible without the help of his partner: Mary Douglas Leakey, One of the world’s most renowned hunters of early human fossils.  She was born in Britain, February 6, 1913. She spent her early childhood traveling throughout Europe. During her travels she was exposed to prehistoric sites such as the caves at Pech Merl in Dordoge, which influenced her to plan a career in geology and archeology.1 This was not a typical path for a woman at the time. She also showed artistic ability and worked as an illustrator at the Hembury Dig in Devon, England, at the age of seventeen.1 She worked for two years at the dig, illustrating the archaeological progress. She had a special interest in the Stone Age, and she did expert illustrations of Stone Age tools and other artifacts. In 1937, she married Louis Leakey, whom she met through his request to illustrate one of his texts.2

In 1948, Mary found her first truly important fossil of her long career as an archaeologist, Proconsul africanus.2 The fossil consisted of half the skull, the upper and lower jaws, and all the teeth. In 1959, she discovered a hominid skull (which she reconstructed from hundreds of fragments) that her husband named Zinjanthropus boisei (later reclassified Australopithecus boisei), which first showed the great antiquity of hominids in Africa.2 Zinjanthropus boisei was dated to 1.75 million years ago, and that radically changed the concept of the timeline of human evolution.2 This find was also fortuitous for the Leakeys in that it drew attention and funding from the National Geographic Society, thus ensuring their continuing research.2

The Leakey family made significant contributions as to how we view early humans.  Though they always had their detractors, they are considered to be significant contributors to the understanding of our origins. Dr. Leakey pushed back the known dates for the existence of various species changed phylogenies to include the existence of parallel lines of evolution in the human family, stimulated research in new fields like primatology, and generated interest and publicity for the study of human origins.2 Mary continued her interest and contributions to the field of paleontology well into her retirement.

Furthermore, museums around the world such as the America Museum of Natural History provide a different perspective of evolution, but with the same goal in mind: educate the public about human origins.  Their focus it’s more on putting together the pieces and discoveries that pioneers like the Leakey family contributed to human origins. The American Museum of Natural History it’s the home of The Spitzer Hall of Human Origins, it is filled with fossils, films, interactive media, etc.

The Museum has a very structured way of guiding its visitors through the hall and in such a way that makes sense to the public from the DNA aspect to Fossils and how we have managed to put together so far the puzzle of how the evolution of humans came about and our “relatives” from the past.3



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