Meredith Johnson's Blog Posts
New Nextflix docuseries follows the Ngogo chimpanzeesIn the News
On April 19, Netflix will release Chimp Empire, a four-part docuseries that follows the fascinating lives of the Ngogo chimpanzees as they raise their young, navigate complex social dynamics, and attempt to climb to the top of the hierarchy.
Wooded grasslands flourished in Africa 21 million years ago – new research forces a rethink of ape evolutionIn the News
New Leakey Foundation-supported research pushes back the oldest evidence of grassy woodlands by 10 million years and suggests that the earliest apes evolved upright stature for leaves, not fruit.
A Giganto MysteryOrigin Stories
This month, Origin Stories podcast explores the mysterious tale of the largest primate that ever lived. Gigantopithecus blacki is an extinct relative of orangutans that lived in Southeast Asia and stood around 10 feet tall.
I will match your donationDirector's Diary, Support Us
Sharal Camisa Smith is celebrating 19 years with The Leakey Foundation by matching 50 first-time donors who give $19 before February 28!
We found 2.9-million-year-old stone tools used to butcher ancient hippos – but likely not by our ancestorsJournal Article, In the News
Two Leakey Foundation grantees tell the story of their discovery of some of the oldest-known stone tools used to butcher large animals.
Origin Stories returns January 31Origin Stories
The Leakey Foundation is excited to announce the launch of a new season of Origin Stories, our award-winning podcast about the fascinating world of human evolution.
Introducing the fall 2022 Leakey Foundation grant recipientsGrants, The Leakey Foundation
We are pleased to announce the 32 recipients of our fall 2022 Leakey Foundation Research Grants.
Friyat Angesom Kidane and Tekie Tesfamichael awarded 2022 Francis H. Brown African ScholarshipsGrants, The Leakey Foundation
Friyat Angesom Kidane and Tekie Tesfamichael have been named as the fall 2022 Francis H. Brown African Scholars for their outstanding research exploring ancient biodiversity and the impact of climate change on human evolution.
Carol Ward wins 2022 Gordon P. Getty AwardGrants, The Leakey Foundation
Anatomist and paleoanthropologist Dr. Carol Ward has received The Leakey Foundation’s 2022 Gordon P. Getty Award. This award recognizes scientists whose multidisciplinary research significantly advances science related to human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival.
The Leakey Foundation receives major gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the ArtsThe Leakey Foundation, Press Release
The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts donated proceeds from a series of Christie's auctions to six San Francisco Bay Area art and science organizations, including The Leakey Foundation.
Lunch Break Science Celebrates 50th EpisodeLunch Break Science
The 50th episode of Lunch Break Science will stream on December 15, 2022, at 11 am Pacific / 2 pm Eastern and it will feature past guests of the show answering audience questions and addressing common misconceptions about human evolution. Viewers of the livestream will have the opportunity to win prizes.
Giving Tuesday gratitudeThe Leakey Foundation, Support Us
We are thrilled to report that our generous donors gave $9,298 for Giving Tuesday! The first $7,000 was matched by a group of sponsors.
Study revises ages of famous fossil sitesJournal Article
A new study contradicts recent estimates claiming important paleontological sites in South Africa are almost a million years older. Researchers used teeth from an extinct monkey species as a clue to date the ages of hominin fossils throughout South Africa.
DNA from the Denisovans contributed to the immune systems of modern people in New GuineaJournal Article
An encounter with a mysterious and extinct human relative – the Denisovans – has left a mark on the immune traits of modern Papuans, in particular those living on New Guinea Island.
The Leakey Foundation’s Primate Research FundThe Leakey Foundation
Many of the most important findings from primate research derive from continuous, long-term studies of wild primates. When these research projects experience emergencies or gaps in funding, The Leakey Foundation's unique Primate Research Fund can help.
Double your Giving Tuesday impactSupport Us
The Leakey Foundation is participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day that celebrates giving and reimagines a world built on shared humanity and generosity. This Giving Tuesday, the impact of your generosity will be doubled!
Meet the first Neanderthal familyJournal Article, In the News
Ancient genomes of thirteen Neanderthals provide a rare snapshot of their community and social organization.
Svante Pääbo wins Nobel Prize for decoding ancient DNAIn the News
The 2022 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded on October 3 to geneticist Svante Pääbo for his groundbreaking discoveries about human evolution and the genomes of extinct hominins.
September 2022 research highlightsResearch Highlights
This month's open-access research highlights include a study of sibling stress, an investigation of pant-hoot communication, and a comparison between fossils from two European Paleolithic research sites.
Discovering Us with Ashley JuddPress Release, The Leakey Foundation
Actor and Leakey Foundation advisor Ashley Judd explores the thrilling stories behind important scientific discoveries in a new audio series based on the book Discovering Us: 50 Great Discoveries in Human Evolution.
Earliest gibbon fossil found in Southwest ChinaJournal Article
A team of scientists has discovered the earliest gibbon fossil, a find that helps fill a long-elusive evolutionary gap in the history of apes.
Lethal HeightsDiscovering Us
In 1980, a Buddhist monk climbed up to Baishiya Karst Cave, sat to pray, and found half of a massive human jawbone with two huge molars lying on the floor. The cave is at nearly 11,000 feet on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, often called the “Roof of the World.” Such high-altitude landscapes were among the last places on Earth colonized by our ancient ancestors.
August 2022 Research HighlightsResearch Highlights
Every month, Leakey Foundation grantees publish research that helps us understand humanity's past, present, and future. We've gathered three open access articles about discoveries funded by our donors.
Human skin stood up to the sun before there were sunscreens and parasols – Nina Jablonski explains whyGuest Post
Human beings evolved under the sun. Sunlight was a constant in people’s lives, warming and guiding them through the days and seasons. Homo sapiens spent the bulk of our prehistory and history outside, mostly naked. Skin was the primary interface between our ancestors’ bodies and the world.
Rare bonobo behavior is photographic goldGuest Post
Is this bonobo cuddling a pet, or did this mongoose become a meal? Wildlife photographer Christian Zeigler captured this moment during his time in the field with researchers at the LuiKotale Bonobo Project, a Leakey Foundation-supported field site in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The photograph was shortlisted for the British Natural History Museum’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Revelations from 17-million-year-old ape teeth could shed light on human evolutionJournal Article
Some scientists suggest early humans and their ancestors also evolved due to rapid changes in their environment, but the physical evidence to test this idea has been elusive – until now.
Explore Ice Age MongoliaSupport Us
Join our August 10 virtual tour to be among the first to see the only known stratified Ice Age archaeological site in the Gobi Desert and have the rare opportunity to see unpublished evidence of Mongolia’s first inhabitants.
The Prehistory Club of KenyaSupport Us
The Prehistory Club of Kenya provides hands-on learning experiences and encourages young people to see the value in our shared human history.
Introducing the spring 2022 Leakey Foundation granteesGrants
We are pleased to announce the recipients of our spring 2022 Leakey Foundation Research Grants. Their diverse research projects span the globe and cover topics that range from aging, cognition, and tool-use to morphology, genomics, and the excavation of newly discovered hominin fossil sites.
New remote research method expands opportunities for scientific collaborationJournal Article, In the News, Press Release
A new Leakey Foundation-supported study proposes an alternative model of remote collaboration that can transform museum-based studies and create a more equitable and resilient research environment.
Announcing the 2022 Baldwin FellowsGrants
Since 1978, the Baldwin Fellowship has helped build scientific capacity in regions where fossils and wild primates are found. This year, we are proud to announce the largest cohort of Baldwin Fellows in the program’s 44-year history.
Support the Baldwin Fellowship ProgramBaldwin Fellows, Support Us
This year we received a record number of Baldwin Fellowship applications, and we gave a record of 22 Fellowships to outstanding students from six countries. This is nearly double the number of Fellowships we usually give.
Support Lunch Break ScienceSupport Us, Lunch Break Science
A generous sponsor has offered to quadruple-match all donations in support of our Lunch Break Science web series! Help us continue to share science.
Virtual Summer Travel Series: Egypt and MongoliaSupport Us
You’re invited to join The Leakey Foundation's virtual Summer Travel Series and support a good cause while exploring fascinating research sites with Leakey Foundation scientists as your guides.
A new generation of Leakey Foundation leadersDirector's Diary, The Leakey Foundation
Our three newest board members represent the second generation of family involvement with The Leakey Foundation. They are the daughters of two beloved members of Foundation leadership who helped shape the organization in profound ways.
Why it’s crucial to safeguard the ancient practice of finding wild honey with birdsGuest Post
In parts of Africa, a small bird called the Greater Honeyguide helps people search for honey. It approaches and chatters and flies in the direction of a wild bees’ nest, urging the person to follow. This relationship may date back to up to 1.5 million years ago when hominins are thought to have gained control of fire.
A fossil tooth places enigmatic ancient humans in Southeast AsiaJournal Article, Behind the Science
An international team of researchers has discovered a tooth belonging to a Denisovan, an ancient human species previously only known from icy northern latitudes.
The Leakey Foundation announces major gift from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the ArtsIn the News, The Leakey Foundation
The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts announced today that it is auctioning its art collection to benefit The Leakey Foundation and five other nonprofit organizations. This could be the most significant gift in The Leakey Foundation’s 54-year history.
New book from The Leakey Foundation tells the stories behind 50 great discoveriesThe Leakey Foundation
In 50 lively and up-to-the-minute essays, Discovering Us: 50 Great Discoveries in Human Origins presents stories of the most exciting and groundbreaking surprises revealed by this wide-ranging new science.
What do anthropologists do?Guest Post
Anthropologists study everything about being human. Their work explores our origins as a species, our present-day cultures, and how humanity will survive into the future.
Anne Stone receives 2022 Guggenheim Fellow awardIn the News, The Leakey Foundation
Anne Stone is an anthropological geneticist who has transformed knowledge in the genetics of infectious diseases and the evolutionary history of humans and the great apes. She has published significant work on the genetics of reemerging infectious diseases, especially leprosy and tuberculosis.
New research reveals where the dingo sits on the evolutionary timeline of dogsGuest Post
Dogs were first domesticated between 29,000 and 14,000 years ago, and have been closely linked to humans ever since. Dingoes – the only native Australian dog – are thought to represent a unique event within canine evolution, having arrived in Australia 5,000–8,000 years ago.
Grantee Spotlight: Ingrid HolzmannGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Ingrid Holzmann is studying how wild howler monkeys respond to their neighbors in order to better understand the impact of these relationships.
Work with The Leakey FoundationThe Leakey Foundation
The Leakey Foundation seeks a part-time administrative assistant to join our San Francisco-based team. The ideal candidate is someone who values our mission and wants to be an integral part of an organization working to make a difference in the world.
How baboons keep healthy family boundariesJournal Article
Finding love in an isolated place can be tough when everyone is a familiar face, or when half the dating pool is already out because they’re all close relatives. That’s no less true for the wild baboons of Amboseli, who live in close-knit groups of 20 to 150 at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.
Help primates on World Wildlife DaySupport Us
Primates are among the most endangered animals on the planet, and they are key species for forest health and biodiversity. Thanks to their fruit-heavy diet, apes and monkeys are fantastic seed-dispersers that help support diverse plant and animal life in their forest habitats.
Origin Stories: Discovering UsOrigin Stories, Book Shelf
In the latest episode of Origin Stories, we talk with Evan Hadingham, senior science editor for the PBS program NOVA. His new book, Discovering Us: 50 Great Discoveries in Human Origins, highlights the thrilling fossil finds, groundbreaking primate behavior observations, and important scientific work of Leakey Foundation researchers.
Ancient DNA helps reveal social changes in Africa that shaped the human storyJournal Article, Behind the Science
An interdisciplinary team has sequenced and analyzed the oldest ancient DNA from Africa. This new research gives insights into the lives, movements, and relations of people who lived in Africa between 18,000 and 5,000 years ago.
Liran Samuni wins 2021 Gordon P. Getty GrantGrants, The Leakey Foundation
Dr. Liran Samuni has been awarded The Leakey Foundation's 2021 Gordon P. Getty Grant. This award honors scientists whose multidisciplinary research significantly advances science related to human origins, evolution, behavior, and survival.
Introducing our fall 2021 granteesGrants, The Leakey Foundation
We are pleased to announce the recipients of our fall 2021 Leakey Foundation Research Grants. These 39 scientists embody our mission of increasing scientific knowledge and public understanding of human evolution, behavior, and survival.
Richard Leakey, renowned paleoanthropologist and conservationist dies at age 77In the News
Paleoanthropologist and conservationist Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, whose discoveries helped show that humankind evolved in Africa, died on January 2, 2022, at age 77.
Origin Stories podcast year in reviewThe Leakey Foundation, Origin Stories
Origin Stories podcast turned six years old in 2021! We produced 10 episodes and reached several important milestones this year. Here's a look back at our year in podcasting.
Help us meet our quadruple-match challenge!The Leakey Foundation, Support Us
Human origins research is powered by donors like you. This December, your donation to The Leakey Foundation will be quadruple-matched thanks to Jorge and Ann Leis and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
Your support made a difference in 2021The Leakey Foundation
From funding research that helps us understand what it means to be human, to helping young scientists achieve their dreams of pursuing a graduate degree, to protecting endangered primates that stand at the brink of extinction, your support made a world of difference this year.
Fossil spine suggests ancient human relative walked like us, but climbed like an apeJournal Article
s ago an ancient human relative, Australopithecus sediba, lived in what is today South Africa, near a cave called Malapa that’s a part of the Cradle of Humankind. Until recently, it was not clear how much the species spent climbing in trees and walking on two legs on the ground.
Mystery solved: footprints from Site A at Laetoli, Tanzania, are from early humans, not bearsIn the News, Journal Article
The oldest unequivocal evidence of upright walking in the human lineage are footprints discovered at Laetoli, Tanzania in 1978, by paleontologist Mary Leakey and her team. The bipedal trackways date to 3.7 million years ago. Another set of mysterious footprints was partially excavated at nearby Site A in 1976 but dismissed as possibly being made by a bear. A recent re-excavation of the Site A footprints at Laetoli and a detailed comparative analysis reveal that the footprints were made by an early human
Grantee Spotlight: Sebastián Ramírez AmayaGrantee Spotlight
Sebastián Ramírez Amaya is a PhD candidate who is studying chimpanzees in Uganda in order to learn about the evolution of pair-bonding in humans.
Grantee Spotlight: Tessa CicakGrantee Spotlight
Tessa Cicak is a PhD candidate studying whose research is testing ideas about how primates respond to competition over food resources.
What our skeletons say about the sex binaryGuest Post
Society increasingly accepts gender identity as existing along a spectrum. The study of people, and their remains, shows that sex should be viewed the same way.
I was part of the team that found the Homo naledi child’s skull: how we did itJournal Article, From the Field, In the News
An international team of researchers, led by Professor Lee Berger, a palaeoanthropologist from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, has revealed the first partial skull of a Homo naledi child from the Rising Star cave.
A study of skull growth and tooth emergence reveals that timing is everythingJournal Article
Paleoanthropologists have wondered for a long time how and why humans evolved molars that emerge at these specific ages and why those ages are so delayed compared to living apes. New research solves this mystery.
Archaeologists find the oldest-known shell beadsJournal Article
Shell beads found in a cave in Morocco are at least 142,000 years old. The archaeologists who found them say they're the earliest-known evidence of a widespread form of human communication.
Grantee Spotlight: Patrick GathogoGrantee Spotlight
Dr. Patrick Gathogo is a geologist and research associate at Stony Brook University who is developing a new approach to geochronology that will extend the capability of the standard methods for dating hominid sites.
Bone tools from Morocco indicate the production of clothing by 120,000 to 90,000 years agoJournal Article
The invention of clothing and the development of the tools needed to create it, are milestones in the story of humanity. A new study, supported in part by The Leakey Foundation, provides strong evidence for the manufacture of clothing as far back as 120,000 years ago.
Grantee Spotlight: Giulia GalloGrantee Spotlight
Did all Neanderthals need or use fire? Giulia Gallo is a PhD candidate at UC Davis whose research is focused on Neanderthal fire use and maintenance. Her Leakey Foundation-supported project will help us to understand the different ways Neanderthals used fire.
Prehistoric climate change channelled human migrations across ArabiaJournal Article, In the News
Researchers, supported in part by The Leakey Foundation, have found that early humans spread into Saudi Arabia multiple times over the past 400,000 years.
Did Dads Evolve?Guest Post
Most male mammals are not involved in raising their offspring. Anthropological observations of fatherhood can provide insight into how—and why—humans are so different.
Homo longi: Extinct human species that may replace Neanderthals as our closest relatives found in ChinaJournal Article
In 1933 a mysterious fossil skull was discovered near Harbin City in the Heilongjiang province of north-eastern China. Despite being nearly perfectly preserved – with square eye sockets, thick brow ridges and large teeth – nobody could work out exactly what it was. The skull is much bigger than that of Homo sapiens and other human species – and its brain size is similar to that of our own species. Historical events left it without a secure place of origin or date, until today.
Communicating about human evolutionIn the News, Speaker Series, Education
Evolution can be a controversial and sensitive topic in America. According to a 2019 survey from the Pew Research Center, 36% of American adults say they do not accept evolution. How can scientists and educators help shift public understanding and acceptance of human evolution?
Introducing our spring 2021 granteesGrants, The Leakey Foundation
We are pleased to announce the 24 recipients of our spring 2021 Leakey Foundation Research Grants. Their diverse research projects include studies of resource use by early human ancestors, the impacts of early life adversity on baboons, the origins of primate pair-bonding, investigations of ancient climates and diets, as well as several new hominin fossil excavations.
Announcing the 2021 Baldwin FellowsBaldwin Fellows, Grants, The Leakey Foundation
Since 1978, the prestigious Baldwin Fellowship has worked to build scientific capacity in the regions where fossils and wild primates are found. We are proud to introduce the outstanding spring 2021 cohort of new and returning Baldwin Fellows.
How young orangutans learnJournal Article
Young orangutans must acquire a vast set of skills and knowledge as they grow. They do this through several years of observational social learning and practice. New research shows that growing female and male orangutans pay attention to different types of individuals.
How early humans used fire to permanently change the Stone Age landscapeFrom the Field
An interdisciplinary group of researchers have shown how early humans used fire to shape the environments to suit their needs. In doing so, they transformed the landscape around them in ways still visible today.
Discarded ostrich shells provide timeline for our early African ancestorsJournal Article
Archaeologists have learned a lot about our ancestors by rummaging through their garbage piles. One common kitchen scrap in Africa– shells of ostrich eggs–is now helping unscramble the mystery of when these changes took place, providing a timeline for some of the earliest Homo sapiens who settled down to utilize marine food resources along the South African coast more than 100,000 years ago.
The oldest human burial in KenyaJournal Article
An international team of researchers has identified the earliest known human burial in Africa at Panga ya Saidi, a cave near the Kenyan coast. The remains of a 2.5 to 3 year-old child were found deliberately buried in a shallow grave directly under the sheltered overhang of the cave. The child was laid carefully on their side, in a curled up position, likely wrapped in a shroud with a pillow under the child's head.
Archaeology in West Africa gives new insights into human historyFrom the Field
New Leakey Foundation-supported research opens a new window into the prehistory of West Africa, showing a rich Middle Stone Age past.
Study of “Little Foot” sheds new light on ancient locomotionJournal Article
High-tech analysis has revealed intriguing new information about "Little Foot", a 3.67 million-year-old Australopithecus fossil from South Africa. New Leakey Foundation-supported research on the upper body of famed fossil opens a window to a pivotal period in human evolution.
Grantee Spotlight: Lucy TimbrellGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Lucy Timbrell aims to contribute to new knowledge about how early modern populations were structured across the landscape. Read more about her research, her science communication projects, and the ways her work has been impacted by the global pandemic.
Grantee Spotlight: Tesla MonsonGrantee Spotlight
Dr. Tesla Monson is a Leakey Foundation grant recipient whose research focuses on understanding how the skull has evolved. Her Leakey Foundation-supported research project will use data from museum collections to investigate cranial variation in colobine monkeys, a sub-family of monkeys that is not well-studied.
Well-timed pebbles make big ripplesThe Leakey Foundation
Leakey Foundation grantee Nina Jablonski is one of the "small but mighty population of people whose careers have been ignited and sustained by Leakey Foundation support, and whose research, in turn, has shed light on previously opaque mysteries of human and primate evolution."
Earliest-known fossil primate discovered in MontanaJournal Article, In the News
A new Leakey Foundation-supported study published Feb. 24 in the journal Royal Society Open Science documents the earliest-known fossil evidence of primates. This discovery illustrates the initial radiation of primates 66 million years ago, following the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs and led to the rise of mammals.
What Charles Darwin got right–and wrong about human evolutionSpeaker Series, Press Release
On Saturday, February 13, The Leakey Foundation is hosting a free online event that will explore how scientific ideas are tested and examine why some of Darwin’s ideas have withstood more than a century of scrutiny, while others have not.
Sleeping by the cycles of the moonJournal Article
For centuries, humans have blamed the moon for our moods, accidents and even natural disasters. New Leakey Foundation-supported research indicates that our planet's celestial companion impacts something else entirely–our sleep.
Introducing Our Fall 2020 Research Grant RecipientsGrants, The Leakey Foundation
We are pleased to announce the 31 recipients of our fall 2020 research grants.
Become a Bedrock DonorSupport Us
Since our beginning in 1968, our mission has been powered by small, yet meaningful, donations from people who are passionate about scientific research and educational outreach. We invite you to join our growing group of dedicated monthly donors, known as Bedrock Donors
Grantee Spotlight: Laura LaBargeGrantee Spotlight
The fear that predators inspire in their prey is a powerful force that can shape ecosystems and maintain biodiversity. These ecological cascades are often mediated by behavior – for instance, fear can drive where prey species choose to move and forage on the landscape. Yet, some of the most basic questions about this important species interaction are obscured in studies involving primates.
Origin Stories: ExerciseOrigin Stories
In this episode of Origin Stories, Daniel Lieberman, author of the new book Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding, explains the powerful instincts that cause us to avoid exercise even though we know it’s good for us. This episode will help you think about exercise in a whole new way.
What would you like to know?The Leakey Foundation
We are running a survey to help us learn more about what you are interested in. Read more and take our survey.
Your support made a difference in 2020The Leakey Foundation, Support Us
From funding research that helps us understand what it means to be human, to helping young scientists achieve their dreams of pursuing a graduate degree, to protecting endangered primates that stand at the brink of extinction, your support made a world of difference this year.
From the Field: Harmonie Klein, GabonFrom the Field
Harmonie Klein studies chimpanzees in the Loango National Park in Gabon. This park is a mosaic of different habitat types ranging from coastal lagoons and mangrove swamps, to forests and open savannah.
Lemurs are the world’s most endangered mammals, but planting trees can help save themJournal Article
Leakey Foundation grantee Andrea Baden studies how human pressures effect Madagascar's endemic lemurs. Her research finds that the ruffed lemur is being disproportionately impacted by human activities. These findings will be key to helping save them.
Leakey Foundation Virtual BackgroundsThe Leakey Foundation
Want to add a little bit of science to your next meeting? Download these human evolution-inspired virtual backgrounds featuring primates in the wild, beautiful landscapes, cave art, and more.
Female geladas suddenly mature when new male takes overJournal Article
Leakey Foundation-supported researchers studying close relatives of baboons known as geladas have shown for the first time that females of this species suddenly hurry up and mature when a new male enters the picture. Their findings are reported in the journal Current Biology on November 5th.
Did prehistoric women hunt? New research suggests soJournal Article
For a long time, it was assumed that hunting in prehistoric societies was primarily carried out by men. Now a new study adds to a body of evidence challenging this idea.
Grantee Spotlight: Irene SmailGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Irene Smail is using information from fossil primates to model how closely-related primate species may have interacted with each other in the past. Her research will shed light on why our species survived while others went extinct.
The story behind the longest known prehistoric journeyJournal Article
Archaeologists in New Mexico have uncovered the longest known trackway of ancient human fossil footprints, offering evidence of interactions between an adult, a child, and a giant sloth.
Turbulent environment set the stage for leaps in human evolution and technology 320,000 years agoIn the News, Behind the Science, Journal Article
People thrive all across the globe, at every temperature, altitude and landscape. How did human beings become so successful at adapting to whatever environment we wind up in? Human origins researchers like me are interested in how this quintessential human trait, adaptability, evolved.
New study to uncover how climate change and tectonics drove evolution in East AfricaIn the News
A 17 million-year-old whale fossil discovered in the 1970s is the impetus for new research led by Leakey Foundation grantee Isaiah Nengo. This research project takes a unique approach to uncovering the course of mammalian evolution in East Africa.
Primate Research Fund provides a lifeline for long-term primate studiesGrants, In the News, The Leakey Foundation, Press Release
The Leakey Foundation, through its Primate Research Fund, has awarded five emergency grants to help long-term primate research projects keep going despite challenging circumstances.
Grantee Spotlight: Jeff SpearGrantee Spotlight
Jeff Spear's research involves traveling back and forth between Airbnbs and museum basements to collect the large samples needed for a study of this kind. Although perhaps not as glamorous as field sites, museums can offer a treasure trove of data and are an essential resource for studying evolution.
Grantee Spotlight: Shasta WebbGrantee Spotlight
Shasta Webb is a 2020 Leakey Foundation grantee whose research focuses on primate flexibility in dynamic environments. Her field work is on hold due to COVID-19 so she is focused on analyzing her large microbiome dataset.
A Leakey Foundation Remembrance of Ann GettyThe Leakey Foundation, Director's Diary
It is with immense sadness that we share news of the passing of Ann Getty. She died on Monday, September 14, 2020. She was 79 years old. Ann joined The Leakey Foundation in 1973 as a Fellow with her husband Gordon Getty who later became the Chairman of the Board. Together they helped the Foundation grow to become the world class funding institution and educational outreach organization that it is today.
Your cells look young for their age, compared to a chimp’sJournal Article
While advances in medicine and nutrition in the last 200 years have added years to human lifespans, a new Leakey Foundation-supported study suggests there could be a more ancient explanation for why humans live longer than our closest relatives do.
Prehistoric desert footprints are earliest evidence for Homo sapiens on Arabian PeninsulaJournal Article
A team of researchers, including Leakey Foundation grantees, discovered human and other animal footprints embedded on an ancient lake surface in the Nefud Desert in Saudi Arabia that are around 120,000 years old. These findings represent the earliest evidence for Homo sapiens on the Arabian Peninsula, and demonstrates the importance of Arabia for understanding human prehistory.
Male chimpanzees hang out as friends, but most social ties remain a mysteryJournal Article
Strong social ties are a key driver of cooperation in many species and are associated with adaptive benefits in several of them, including humans, feral horses and dolphins. Although such bonds are widely observed, it is not always known why any two particular animals become friends (just as in humans).
New fossil ape discovered in IndiaJournal Article
A 13-million-year-old fossil unearthed in northern India comes from a newly discovered ape, the earliest known ancestor of the modern-day gibbon. The discovery was made by Leakey Foundation grantee Christopher C. Gilbert, Hunter College. It fills a major void in the ape fossil record and provides important new evidence about when the ancestors of today’s gibbon migrated to Asia from Africa.
Grantee Spotlight: Hailay RedaGrantee Spotlight
Hailay Reda is a two-time Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellow from Ethiopia. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Oregon. He has also been awarded a Leakey Foundation research grant for his project entitled "Reconstructing the paleoecology of Woranso-Mille hominins using cercopithecids."
Speaker Series Returns October 20Speaker Series
Mark your calendar for the return of The Leakey Foundation's Speaker Series on Human Origins. Our first virtual lecture will be held on Tuesday, October 20 with Leakey Foundation grantee Irene Gallego Romero of the University of Melbourne.
Boxgrove: how we found Europe’s oldest bone tools – and what we learned about their makersJournal Article, Guest Post
Boxgrove in Sussex, England, is an iconic, old stone age site. This is where the oldest human remains in Britain have been discovered – fossils of Homo heidelbergensis. Part of an exceptionally preserved 26km-wide ancient landscape of stone, it provides a virtually untouched record of early humans almost half a million years ago.
Grantee Spotlight: Stephanie FoxGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Stephanie Fox grew up surrounded by examples of strong female friendships. A few years ago, she learned that those kinds of friendships aren't as common as she thought. Now her Leakey Foundation-supported research investigates the biological roots of female friendship.
Parasites and the MicrobiomeJournal Article
A study funded in part by The Leakey Foundation investigated the links between parasite infection and the gut microbiome. Researchers discovered that the presence of parasites was strongly associated with the overall composition of the microbiome.
Life Trustee Barry Sterling Dies at Age 90The Leakey Foundation
It is with profound sadness that I share the news of Barry Sterling's death on July 26th at his home in Sebastopol, California. He was 90 years old. Barry was elected to The Leakey Foundation Board of Trustees in 1991 and received the honorary title of Life Trustee in 2007.
Science Through Visual StoriesVideo
On July 22, The Leakey Foundation hosted a free webinar with global change biologist and science communication educator Sara ElShafie. The recording of “Science Through Visual Stories” is now available!
Naturally perforated shells one of the earliest adornments in the Middle PaleolithicJournal Article
Ancient humans deliberately collected perforated shells in order to string them together as beads, according to a study supported in part by The Leakey Foundation and published July 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Introducing the 2020 Baldwin FellowsGrants
The Leakey Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Franklin Mosher Baldwin Memorial Fellowships. These Fellowships are awarded to graduate students from countries where there are limited opportunities for advanced training and education in fields of research related to the study of human origins.
Introducing Our Spring 2020 GranteesThe Leakey Foundation, Grants
The Leakey Foundation is proud to introduce the 31 recipients of our spring 2020 research grants.
The Leakey Foundation Stands Against RacismThe Leakey Foundation
Black lives matter. Oppressive racist systems profoundly harm Black people. The Leakey Foundation stands in solidarity with those who seek to end the pain of systemic racism.
Two New Fossil Primate Species Discovered at Gona in EthiopiaJournal Article
Leakey Foundation grantee Sileshi Semaw from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), is coauthor of a paper published in the Journal of Human Evolution that describes two newly discovered primate species.
Zaneta Thayer on Discrimination, Stress, and HealthSpeaker Series, Video
This month's featured video is from biological anthropologist Zaneta Thayer of Dartmouth College. Her 2017 talk at the American Museum of Natural History addresses how trauma, poverty, and racial discrimination create health inequalities.
Down Ancient TrailsEducation, Lecture
Leakey Foundation grantee Shanti Pappu and her colleagues are hosting free online lectures on archaeology and human evolution. Many of the featured speakers are Leakey Foundation grantees.
Fossil footprints reveal snapshot of group behavior in prehistoric humansJournal Article
The largest collection of footprints from the human fossil record in Africa is described in Scientific Reports this week. The findings, which further our understanding of human life during the Late Pleistocene period, suggest a division of labor in ancient human communities.
Pardis Sabeti on Evolutionary Forces in Humans and PathogensVideo
This month's featured video is Dr. Pardis Sabeti's talk on "Evolutionary Forces in Humans and Pathogens" from our 2016 Survival Symposium. This symposium focused on evolution and the many challenges facing the survival of our species.
Punishing Selfish Behavior May Be a Universal Human ResponseJournal Article
New research by Leakey Foundation Scientific Executive Committee Member Joan Silk suggests that humans willingly incur costs to punish selfishness in others, and our societies are likely more cooperative as a result.
Lesson Plans for Online LearningThe Leakey Foundation, Education
As teachers scramble to move courses online during the coronavirus pandemic, The Leakey Foundation understands the urgent need to offer free, high quality educational tools. A challenge of this magnitude requires creative solutions to meet the demand, and that is why the Foundation is focusing on projects that address the critical situation facing educators today.
Ancient Teeth from Peru Hint Now-Extinct Monkeys Crossed Atlantic from AfricaJournal Article
A new discovery, funded in part by The Leakey Foundation, helps date the transatlantic migration of primates to about 34 million years ago, around the time a major drop in sea level would have made the ocean voyage shorter.
Dozens of Non-Human Primate Species Are Vulnerable to COVID-19Journal Article, Behind the Science
Dozens of non-human primate species, including our closest relatives, are at risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and are vulnerable to COVID-19, which could have devastating impacts on populations of primates that are already endangered.
Colombian Primatologist to Give Virtual TalkEducation, Lecture
Join us on Friday, April 10 at 5 pm CST/GMT-5 (2 pm Pacific) to hear Natalia Camargo discuss her experience studying chimpanzees in Kibale National Park for the past year.
Origin Stories: The Cave PunanOrigin Stories
Deep in the remote forests of Indonesian Borneo lives a society of hunter-gatherers who speak a language never before shared with outsiders. Until now. The latest episode of Origin Stories tells the story of the Cave Punan people and their urgent plea for help to save their forest home.
In South Africa, Three Hominins, Including Earliest Homo erectus, Lived during the Same PeriodJournal Article
Nearly 2 million years ago, three hominin genera - Australopithecus, Paranthropus and the earliest Homo erectus lineage - lived as contemporaries in the karst landscape of what is now South Africa, according to a new geochronological evaluation of the hominin fossil-rich Drimolen Paleocave complex.
Humans of AnthropologyThe Leakey Foundation, Behind the Science
Science is a collaborative endeavor and long-term projects require the work of multiple generations of researchers. At the 2019 meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, The Leakey Foundation set out to document the academic "families" of biological anthropology. All of the portraits are now available on our website.
Baby Steps: This Ancient Skull Is Helping Us Trace the Path That Led to Modern ChildhoodJournal Article
New findings by Leakey Foundation grantees reveal the slowing down of brain development in our ape-like ancestors began more than three million-years-ago.
Oldest Ever Human Genetic Evidence Retrieved from 800,000-Year-Old FossilJournal Article
An important advancement in human evolution studies has been achieved after scientists retrieved the oldest human genetic data set from an 800,000-year-old tooth belonging to the hominin species Homo antecessor.
Grantee Spotlight: Harmonie KleinGrantee Spotlight
Harmonie Klein is a PhD candidate studying hunting and meat sharing among wild chimpanzees in Gabon. This community of chimpanzees is newly habituated to human presence and Klein is learning a lot about their cooperative behaviors.
Female Chimps with Powerful Moms Are Less Likely to Leave HomeJournal Article
Chimps are unusual among mammals in that daughters, not sons, typically pick up their roots at puberty and move away from their families. But in Gombe National Park, some chimpanzee females stay put instead of moving out.
Grantee Spotlight: Mareike JaniakGrantee Spotlight
What makes humans such "adaptable" and flexible creatures, especially when it comes to what we eat? Primates, in general, can survive on a wide variety of foods, but there are also a lot of species with a range of really specialized diets, like those focused on insects, leaves, or fruit, and all of these foods have different challenges when it comes to digesting them. Mareike Janiak's research is focused on understanding how the species in these different dietary niches have adapted to digesting their foods.
A Tiny Bone from Little Foot’s Skeleton Adds Fresh Insights into What Our Ancestors Could DoJournal Article
New research on an Australopithecus fossil called "Little Foot" helps us better understand how these ancient hominins lived. The findings suggest that this specimen could climb and move in trees as well as on the ground.
From the Field: Margaret BuehlerFrom the Field
Margaret Buehler's research strives to answer a seemingly simple, yet important, evolutionary question about primates that live in groups: why do specific primates choose to live together?
Important Information for Current Leakey Foundation Grant RecipientsGrants, The Leakey Foundation
University travel restrictions and personal health considerations due to COVID-19 may impact Leakey Foundation grant project timelines. Read more to learn how this issue can be addressed.
Important Update on Leakey Foundation Events and COVID-19The Leakey Foundation
After careful consideration, The Leakey Foundation has made the decision to cancel and reschedule our spring Speaker Series events in Houston and San Francisco. If you have purchased a ticket, please contact the museum you purchased your tickets from.
New Survival Symposium Videos Explore the Evolution of Human AlliancesVideo, Survival
At a moment when society feels dangerously polarized, fragmented and unstable, the Leakey Foundation Survival Symposium “Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution” offers a forum for understanding our human urge to form alliances. Videos from this event are now available to watch and share.
Video: Science Through StoryVideo
On February 27, The Leakey Foundation hosted a free online workshop called "Science Through Story" with science communication expert Sara ElShafie. This workshop was designed to help scientists tell compelling stories about their research. It was part of a new Leakey Foundation initiative that provides career development support to our grant recipients.
Smallest Homo erectus Cranium in Africa and Diverse Stone Tools Found at Gona, EthiopiaJournal Article
An international research team led by scientists from the U.S. and Spain, supported in part by The Leakey Foundation, has discovered a nearly complete cranium of an early human ancestor, estimated to about 1.5 million years ago, and a partial cranium dated to about 1.26 million years ago, from the Gona study area in Ethiopia’s Afar State.
Grantee Spotlight: Clare KimockGrantee Spotlight
Clare Kimock is studying free-ranging rhesus macaques on the island of Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico, one of the longest-running primate field sites in the world.
First Ancient DNA from West Africa Illuminates the Deep Human PastJournal Article, In the News
A team of international researchers, with support from The Leakey Foundation, dug deep to find some of the oldest African DNA on record, in a new study published in Nature.
Learn to Tell Your Science StoryThe Leakey Foundation, Education
The Leakey Foundation is offering a free online "Science Through Story" workshop to help Leakey Foundation grantees tell compelling stories about their research. This workshop will be held at 10 am Pacific on February 27, 2020.
Archaeological Discoveries Are Happening Faster Than Ever BeforeGuest Post
New discoveries and new methods in paleoanthropology are helping to refine the human story. Just 20 years ago, no one could have imagined what scientists now know about humanity’s deep past, let alone how much knowledge could be extracted from a thimble of dirt, a scrape of dental plaque, or satellites in space.
Monkeys Smashing Nuts Hint at How Human Tool Use EvolvedGuest Post, Journal Article
Human beings used to be defined as “the tool-maker” species. But the uniqueness of this description was challenged in the 1960s when Dr. Jane Goodall discovered that chimpanzees will pick and modify grass stems to use to collect termites. Her observations called into question homo sapiens‘ very place in the world. Since then scientists’ knowledge of animal tool use has expanded exponentially.
Announcing the Joan Cogswell Donner Field School ScholarshipGrants, In the News, The Leakey Foundation
The Leakey Foundation is proud to announce the Joan Cogswell Donner Field School Scholarship which will provide grants of up to $2,000 to students from countries where there are abundant scientific resources but limited resources for academic development.
Chimpanzees more likely to share tools, teach skills when task is complexJournal Article
Teach a chimpanzee to fish for insects to eat, and you feed her for a lifetime. Teach her a better way to use tools in gathering prey, and you may change the course of evolution.
Indonesian Cave Paintings Show the Dawn of Imaginative ArtJournal Article
By Adam Brumm, Griffith University; Adhi Oktaviana, Griffith University, and Maxime Aubert, Griffith University Our team has discovered a cave painting in Indonesia that is at least 44,000 years old and which may cast new light on the beginnings of modern religious culture. This ancient painting from the island of Sulawesi consists of a scene portraying part-human, part-animal figures hunting wild… more »
Origin Stories: The DenisovansOrigin Stories
In this episode of our Origin Stories podcast, Leakey Foundation grantee Bence Viola tells the story of the Denisovans. This group of archaic humans was first discovered through a tiny fragment of a pinky bone found in a Siberian cave. Ancient DNA inside the fossil hid a previously unknown history of humankind. Now new research is uncovering more information about the mysterious Denisovans.
Giving Tuesday Donations Will Be MatchedThe Leakey Foundation, Support Us
This Giving Tuesday, all donations up to $5,000 will be quadruple-matched, thanks to Gordon and Ann Getty and Leakey Foundation Fellow Gianni Amato. All donations above that amount will be doubled.
Fossil Finders: Heselon MukiriGuest Post, Fossil Finders
In this installment of our "Fossil Finders" series, Leakey Foundation Fellow Carol Broderick brings us the story of Heselon Mukiri who made several important discoveries and worked with Louis Leakey since the beginning of Leakey's career.
Global Climate Change Concerns for Africa’s Lake VictoriaJournal Article
Global climate change could cause Africa’s Lake Victoria, the world’s largest tropical lake and source of the Nile River, to dry up in the next 500 years, according to new findings funded in part by The Leakey Foundation. Even more imminent, the White Nile — one of the two main tributaries of the Nile — could lose its source waters in just a decade.
From the Field: Kelly Ostrofsky, UgandaFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Kelly Ostrofsky spent the last several months working at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, getting to know the mountain gorillas that live in the Ruhija sector of the forest.
Grantee Spotlight: Andrew BernardGrantee Spotlight
Will primates move to track changes in their habitats, or might they modify their behavior, or even adapt, in place? If they do move, why? What elements of their habitats are actually changing that make it more or less preferable? These questions frame Leakey Foundation grantee Andrew Bernard's dissertation research in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
The Piltdown Man HoaxOrigin Stories
The latest episode of The Leakey Foundation's Origin Stories podcast explores the story of the infamous Piltdown Man hoax.
Grantee Spotlight: Kelly OstrofskyGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Kelly Ostrofsky studies how wild apes move and climb in their natural habitats. As our closest living relatives, these apes provide an important comparative context for understanding how our ancestors may have moved and climbed.
Five Fun Facts About GibbonsEducation
In honor of International Gibbon Day, here are five fun facts about our gibbon cousins and one fact that's no fun at all.
What Shapes the Human Gut Microbiome?Journal Article
A study published on October 8, 2019, in the journal Genome Biology finds that despite our close genetic relationship to apes, the human gut microbiome is more similar to that of baboons than it is to that of apes like chimpanzees.
From the Field: Shannon McFarlin, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, UgandaFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Shannon Mc Farlin sends an update from the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda where she has been cataloging the skeletal remains of mountain gorillas.
Grantee Spotlight: Amy ScottGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Amy Scott is studying orangutans in Indonesia in order to better understand how sexual conflict shapes orangutan reproductive strategies. The role of sexual conflict is often overlooked in models of human evolution, but the centrality of sexual conflict in shaping the reproductive strategies of both male and female orangutans, one of our closest living relatives, emphasizes the importance of considering how sexual conflict has shaped human evolution.
Fall Speaker Series on Human OriginsSpeaker Series
The Leakey Foundation's "Speaker Series on Human Origins" brings world-class speakers to give fascinating public lectures at museums and other institutions around the United States. The fall 2019 series will feature the latest discoveries and developments in paleoanthropology and human evolution research, including current research on Denisovans and Neanderthals, the importance of children and grandmothers in understanding human origins, and a celebration of the 45th anniversary of the discovery of "Lucy."
Two Ways to Watch “Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution”Speaker Series, The Leakey Foundation
If you are in New York, the best way to join us for "Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution" is to purchase one of the few remaining tickets and watch it live at the Morgan Library. If you can't make it in person, you can watch via livestream on our YouTube channel or Facebook page!
Explore Human Behavior at “Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution”The Leakey Foundation, Speaker Series
Join us on September 19 at the Morgan Library in New York to examine the evolutionary origins and function of tribalism, our social transition from tribes to states, and the role tribal identity plays in our increasingly divided world.
The Leakey Foundation to Hold Symposium on Tribalism, Politics, and EvolutionThe Leakey Foundation, Speaker Series, Survival, Press Release
At a moment when society feels dangerously polarized, fragmented and unstable, the symposium “Our Tribal Nature: Tribalism, Politics, and Evolution” offers a forum for understanding our human urge to form alliances.
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 38 Fall/Winter 2018Anthroquest
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 38 Fall/Winter 2018… more »
A 3.8-Million-Year-Old Fossil From Ethiopia Reveals the Face of Lucy’s AncestorJournal Article, In the News
Leakey Foundation grantee Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and his team of researchers have discovered a "remarkably complete" cranium of a 3.8-million-year-old early human ancestor from the Woranso-Mille paleontological site, located in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
From the Field: Lauren Michel, Rusinga Island, KenyaFrom the Field
Rusinga Island, Kenya, is a fossil site that preserves everything from the smallest rodents to the largest elephants, from insects and snails to leaves and fruits. Leakey Foundation grantee Lauren Michel sends a report on some surprising recent discoveries.
Thank You for Your Support!The Leakey Foundation, Support Us
The Leakey Foundation launched a fundraising campaign in honor of Louis Leakey's 116th birthday on August 7, 2019. All donations up to $5,000 were quadruple-matched thanks to Leakey Foundation Fellow Mike Smith and two anonymous supporters. We are thrilled to report that thanks to your generous donations, we have raised a total of $29,552 for research and educational outreach!
Early Hominins Grew Their Spinal Columns Like Modern HumansJournal Article
The spinal column is a critical region for understanding the evolution of bipedal walking because the joints between the vertebrae are involved in back movements and the formation of the lumbar lordosis, a curve in the lower back that allows humans to walk upright. New Leakey Foundation-supported research shows that early hominins grew their spinal columns like modern humans.
From the Archive: Louis S.B. LeakeyOrigin Stories, From the Archive
In the final installment of our "From the Archive" series, Kenyan paleoanthropologist Louis S.B. Leakey shares the story of his life and work in a never-before-released interview recorded in 1969.
Celebrating Louis S.B. LeakeyThe Leakey Foundation, Today in History
Louis Leakey was born on this day in 1903. He was a charismatic scientist who devoted his life to uncovering our shared past and telling our shared story.
From the Field: Stephanie Musgrave, Goualougo Triangle, Republic of the CongoFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Stephanie Musgrave has been in the field with the Goualougo Triangle Ape Project in the Republic of the Congo where she studies how the chimpanzees there make and use tools to gather termites and other resources such as ants, honey, seeds, and marrow.
Darwin: A Primate’s TalePrimate Tales
Darwin is a capuchin monkey who was born during a time of great prosperity for her group. She is the granddaughter of alpha male Pablo and the venerable alpha female Chupacabra. Darwin had a happy and relatively carefree childhood but her life since then has had its challenges.
Fossil of Smallest Old World Monkey Species Discovered in KenyaJournal Article
Researchers from the National Museums of Kenya, University of Arkansas, University of Missouri and Duke University have announced the discovery of a tiny monkey that lived in Kenya 4.2 million years ago.
Ancient Saharan Seaway Illustrates How Earth’s Climate and Creatures Can Undergo Extreme ChangeJournal Article
The region now holding the Sahara Desert was once underwater, in striking contrast to the present-day arid environment. This dramatic difference in climate over time is recorded in the rock and fossil record of West Africa during a time range that extends through the Cretaceous-Paleogene (KPg) boundary.
The Discovery of “Zinj”Guest Post, Today in History
On July 17, 1959, Mary Leakey left her camp and went out to search the layers of sediment in Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, as she and her husband Louis Leakey had done for almost 30 years. Their primary goal was to find fossils of our human relatives (hominins), and as hot, dusty, backbreaking, painstakingly slow and what many friends and fellow scientists might call impossible as that goal seemed, they were determined to reach it.
The Leakey Foundation Announces New Scholarship for East African Geologists and BotanistsGrants, The Leakey Foundation, Press Release
The Leakey Foundation is proud to announce the Francis H. Brown African Scholarship. This scholarship fund was established to honor the life and work of Dr. Francis H. Brown, a geologist whose study of the Omo-Turkana basin helped build the timeline of human evolution.
Bonobo Diet of Aquatic Greens May Hold Clues to Human EvolutionJournal Article
With support from The Leakey Foundation, scientists have observed bonobos in the Congo basin foraging in swamps for aquatic herbs rich in iodine. Iodine is a critical nutrient for brain development and higher cognitive abilities, and this new research may explain how the nutritional needs of prehistoric humans in the region were met.
World’s Smallest Bears Can Mimic Facial ExpressionsJournal Article
The world's smallest bears can exactly mimic another bear's facial expressions, casting doubt on humans and other primates' supremacy at this subtle form of communication.
Neanderthals Made Repeated Use of Open Air Settlement in Northern IsraelJournal Article
The archaeological site of 'Ein Qashish in northern Israel was a place of repeated Neanderthal occupation and use during the Middle Paleolithic, according to a study funded in part by The Leakey Foundation and published June 26, 2019, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ravid Ekshtain of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues.
A Shared Past for East Africa’s Hunter-GatherersJournal Article
Languages that involve "clicks" are relatively rare worldwide but are spoken by several groups in Africa. The Khoisan language family includes a handful of these click languages, spoken by hunter-gatherer groups in southern and eastern Africa. But the grouping of these populations into a single language family has been controversial, with some linguists convinced that a few of the languages are too different to be classified together. A genomic study of 50 African populations, funded in part by The Leakey Foundation, adds some clarity to the relationships between these click-speaking groups and many others.
Leakey Foundation Grantee Featured in New PBS and Smithsonian Channel FilmIn the News
In the new film “When Whales Walked: Journeys in Deep Time,” Leakey Foundation grantee and Wake Forest University anthropology professor Ellen Miller stands on a rocky hillside in northern Kenya carefully uncovering 16 million-year-old fossil elephant teeth. Miller is one of several scientists from around the world featured in the two-hour film, created in a first-ever partnership between PBS and Smithsonian Channel.
From the Field: Brenna Henn, South AfricaFrom the Field
Most of human genetic diversity is found in Sub-Saharan Africa -- and among Sub-Saharan Africans. The most genetically diverse people are the KhoeSan populations of Southern Africa. With the help of The Leakey Foundation, I went to the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape of South Africa to expand what we know about KhoeSan genetic diversity.
Social Insecurity Stresses ChimpanzeesJournal Article
New research funded in part by The Leakey Foundation shows that male chimpanzees adjust their competitive behaviors when social relationships in their group are unstable.
Fossil Finders: The Hominid GangGuest Post, Fossil Finders
Kamoya Kimeu may be the most famous “Fossil Finder” in paleoanthropology, but he was not alone when he made many of his remarkable discoveries. With him was a group of men who came to be known as the “Hominid Gang.” Walking and surveying the often inhospitable rocky landscape in East Africa, these men became outstanding and important fossil finders.
Unraveling the Mystery of Human BipedalityGuest Post
Bipedality, the ability to walk upright on two legs, is a hallmark of human evolution. Many primates can stand up and walk around for short periods of time, but only humans use this posture for their primary mode of locomotion.
From the Field: Frido Welker, CopenhagenFrom the Field
Not all paleolithic research happens in the field! In fact, nowadays a lot of it happens in laboratories hidden away in university buildings and research institutes. Leakey Foundation grantee Frido Welker studies ancient proteins preserved in archaeological bone in order to learn more about human evolution.
Bonobo Mothers Meddle in Their Sons’ Sex Lives – Making Them Three Times More Likely to Father ChildrenJournal Article
New research shows that for bonobos, sex really is often a family affair. What’s more, rather than being an embarrassing hindrance, motherly presence greatly benefits bonobo sons during the deed.
Evolution and the Mammalian SpineJournal Article
"Nearly all mammals have the same number of cervical vertebrae, no matter how long or short their necks are--humans, giraffes, mice, whales, and platypuses all have exactly seven cervical vertebrae," said Jeff Spear, a doctoral student from New York University, and part of a team whose Leakey Foundation supported research explored why this characteristic has stayed the same through time and across species.
From the Field: Kevin Hatala, Nariokotome, KenyaFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Kevin Hatala has recently returned from fieldwork near Nariokotome, in northwestern Kenya, where his research team did surveys and preliminary excavations of sites that preserve 1.5 million-year-old fossil footprints.
Homo naledi and the Chamber of SecretsSpeaker Series
May 14 is the final day for discounted 'early bird' tickets for our upcoming lecture, "Homo naledi and the Chamber of Secrets" with Dr. Jeremy DeSilva. The lecture will be held at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on May 21 at 6:30 pm.
National Parks Could Save Endangered SpeciesJournal Article, In the News
Research led by Leakey Foundation grantee Stacy Lindshield shows how protected areas like national parks are effectively preserving many mammal species in Senegal.
Bonobos Eat and Share Meat at Rates Similar to ChimpanzeesJournal Article
Small forest antelope in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more to worry about than being eaten by leopards. In at least one portion of the forest, Weyn's duikers are the preferred meat consumed by bonobos, according to new research supported by The Leakey Foundation.
Grantee Spotlight: Frido WelkerGrantee Spotlight
Ancient DNA research has revolutionized the study of human evolution, but some time periods and geographic regions have not yet yielded usable DNA. Leakey Foundation grantee Frido Welker is a postdoctoral researcher who is testing new methodologies for breaking down and extracting ancient proteins.
From the Field: Chris Gilbert, IndiaFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Chris Gilbert has returned from a successful field season in the Indian Lower Siwaliks. He and his team revisited known fossil localities, discovered new ones, collected detailed geological measurements, and found an additional specimen of the fossil ape Sivapithecus indicus.
Grantee Spotlight: Benjamin FinkelGrantee Spotlight
A lot of our understanding of aging comes from studying human societies, which share food extensively and care for the elderly, things that wild apes don’t do. So what does it mean to be an aging ape in the wild, who has to fend and forage for themselves?
New Species of Early Human Discovered in the PhilippinesJournal Article
A new member of the human family has been found in a cave in the Philippines, researchers report today in the journal Nature. The new species, called Homo luzonensis is named after Luzon Island, where the more than 50,000-year-old fossils were found during excavations at Callao Cave.
Support Science and Your Donation Will Be DoubledThe Leakey Foundation, Support Us
Over 100 people are seeking a Leakey Foundation grant right now, and almost half of those people are asking for help to complete their dissertation research. You can help the next generation of scholars by giving generously today!
Fossil Teeth from Kenya Solve Ancient Monkey MysteryJournal Article
The teeth of a new fossil monkey, unearthed in the badlands of northwest Kenya, help fill a 6-million-year void in Old World monkey evolution, according to a study by U.S. and Kenyan scientists published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and funded in part by The Leakey Foundation.
From the Field: Sofya Dolotovskaya, PeruFrom the Field
Sofya Dolotovskaya spent 14 months studying elusive titi monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon. Her Leakey Foundation funded research investigates aspects of pair-living in socially monogamous titi monkeys to see if social monogamy translates into genetic monogamy.
Origin Stories: Tepilit Ole SaitotiOrigin Stories, From the Archive
In this never-before-released archival lecture from 1980, Maasai warrior, author, and Leakey Foundation grantee Tepilit Ole Saitoti discusses the Maasai culture and the challenges facing the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania.
New Chimpanzee Culture DiscoveredJournal Article, In the News
Chimpanzees have a more elaborate and diversified material culture than any other nonhuman primate. Researchers have discovered new behaviors in a wild population of chimpanzees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These behaviors include the use of tools to harvest ants and stingless bees.
New Findings Shed Light on Origin of Upright WalkingJournal Article, In the News
Upright walking is a trait that defines our human lineage. New research funded in part by The Leakey Foundation provides evidence for greater reliance on terrestrial bipedalism by a human ancestor than previously suggested in the ancient fossil record.
From the Field: Deming Yang, KenyaFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Deming Yang has recently returned from his data collection trips to the Turkana Basin in northern Kenya and Salt Lake City, Utah. One of the questions his dissertation research project hopes to address is how the paleoenvironments in the Turkana Basin varied across space and time.
Grantee Spotlight: Alba García de la ChicaGrantee Spotlight
How, when, and why did pair-bonding and monogamy evolve in our human lineage? Leakey Foundation grantee Alba García de la Chica is a PhD candidate from the University of Barcelona. She was awarded a Leakey Foundation Research Grant in fall 2017 to study the mechanisms that allow the maintenance of pair bonds and monogamy in owl monkeys.
Fresh Clues to the Life and Times of the DenisovansJournal Article
We know that some modern human genomes contain fragments of DNA from an ancient population of humans called Denisovans, the remains of which have been found at only one site, a cave in what is now Siberia. Two recent papers published in Nature give us a firmer understanding of when these little-known archaic hominins lived.
New Studies Reveal the History of Denisova CaveJournal Article
An extinct branch of hominins called the Denisovans is one of the most elusive members of our extended family tree: So far there have been only four individuals found in a single Siberian cave. Now researchers have done the painstaking work of dating the fossils, sediments, and artifacts found in that famous cave, including what might be the first evidence for crafts made by our long-lost cousins.
The Diversity of Rural African Populations Extends to MicrobiomesJournal Article
Our microbiome, the complex community of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other microorganisms in and on our bodies, reflects the way we live. Most microbiome analyses have focused on people living in developed nations, but in the last several years, scientists have begun to investigate whether people in non-industrialized societies possess distinctly different microbiomes and, if so, what factors shape those differences.
Understanding Australopithecus sedibaJournal Article
Now, 10 years later after the discovery of Malapa, full descriptions of the Australopithecus sediba fossil material, as well as raw measurement data and surface scans of the fossils which are available at Morphosource.org, have been published in a special issue of the open access journal, PaleoAnthropology.
Human Respiratory Viruses Continue to Spread in Wild ChimpanzeesJournal Article
Less than two years after the first report of wild chimpanzees in Uganda dying as a result of a human “common cold” virus, a new study has identified two other respiratory viruses of human origin in chimpanzee groups in the same forest.
Origin Stories: Margaret MeadOrigin Stories, From the Archive
In this never-before-released archival lecture from 1974, anthropologist Margaret Mead discusses the lives of women from prehistoric through modern times.
2.4 Million Year Old Stone Tools Found in North AfricaJournal Article
When did early humans first arrive in the Mediterranean? New archaeological evidence published in the journal Science and funded in part by The Leakey Foundation indicates their presence in North Africa at least 2.4 million years ago.
Grantee Spotlight: Elizabeth MallottGrantee Spotlight
Leakey Foundation grantee Elizabeth Mallott is studying how eating meat has shaped the primate gut microbiome.
What Teeth Can Tell Us About Ancient Humans and NeanderthalsJournal Article
Teeth are a really useful indicator of past environments. This is possible because teeth have biological rhythms and key events get locked inside them. These faithful internal clocks run night and day, year after year, and include daily growth lines and a marked line formed at birth.
Quadruple Donation Match Until December 31The Leakey Foundation
Four generous sponsors are matching all donations, up to a total of $10,000, until midnight on December 31. All donations will be matched 4:1 so your impact on human origins research and outreach will be quadrupled!
Baboons and the Link Between Social Status and HealthJournal Article
A growing body of evidence shows that those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are more likely to die prematurely than those at the top. The pattern isn't unique to humans – across many social animals, the lower an individual's social status, the worse its health.
Origin Stories: Dian FosseyOrigin Stories, From the Archive, 50th Anniversary
In this never-before-released archival lecture from 1973, the legendary primatologist Dian Fossey tells the story of the early years of her groundbreaking mountain gorilla research.
New Dates for Ancient Stone Tools in ChinaJournal Article
You probably think of new technologies as electronics you can carry in a pocket or wear on a wrist. But some of the most profound technological innovations in human evolution have been made out of stone. For most of the time that humans have been on Earth, we’ve chipped stone into useful shapes to make tools for all kinds of work.
Origin Stories: Carl SaganOrigin Stories
Carl Sagan explores the evolution of human intelligence from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, through today in this never-before-released archival lecture.
From the Field: Rachel Bynoe, HappisburghFrom the Field
Leakey Foundation grantee Rachel Bynoe is a paleolithic archaeologist researching the underwater archaeology of the North Sea in Happisburgh where recent discoveries have radically changed our understanding of the timing and nature of early hominin occupation in Britain.
Origin Stories: Carl SaganOrigin Stories
Carl Sagan explores the evolution of human intelligence from the big bang, fifteen billion years ago, through today in this never-before-released archival lecture.
What Drove Africa’s Megaherbivores to Extinction?Journal Article
New research disputes a long-held view that our earliest tool-bearing ancestors contributed to the demise of large mammals in Africa over the last several million years.
Origin Stories: The Four Year WarOrigin Stories
The Leakey Foundation has released the first episode of the new season of its award-winning Origin Stories podcast.
From the Field: Rosa Moll, MoroccoFrom the Field
It is rare to have the opportunity to visit the sites that define our human history around the world. Recently, Rosa Moll, a Leakey Foundation Baldwin Fellow from South Africa visited the site of Jebel Irhoud in Morocco, famous for the oldest modern Homo sapiens fossils in the world.
Origin Stories Returns November 15Origin Stories, Press Release
The Leakey Foundation's award-winning Origin Stories podcast returns for a third season on November 15 with eight all-new audio documentaries about how we became human. In addition, this season will feature archival material from the Foundation's 50-year archive of lectures from brilliant scientists such as Dian Fossey, Mary Leakey, Margaret Mead, and Carl Sagan. The season three trailer is out now.
Grantee Spotlight: Jonathan ReevesGrantee Spotlight
Jonathan Reeves is a Leakey Foundation grantee from the George Washington University who is studying how the environment shaped our movement over the course of our evolutionary history by looking at the stone tools Pleistocene people carried and discarded.
Earliest Hominin Migrations into the Arabian PeninsulaJournal Article, In the News
A new study provides evidence for hominins in ‘Green Arabia’ between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago alongside direct environmental data indicating productive, relatively humid grasslands.
Grantee Spotlight: Rachel BynoeGrantee Spotlight
Rachel Bynoe is a paleolithic archaeologist researching the submerged archaeology of the southern North Sea. She received a Leakey Foundation research grant in 2017 to explore an underwater archaeological site off the coast of Happisburgh, England.
Join The Leakey Foundation for Bay Area Discovery DaysEducation, Press Release
The Leakey Foundation will be offering fun hands-on science activities for children and families at two upcoming Bay Area Science Festival Discovery Days.
Two Chicago Events Explore Chimpanzee BehaviorPress Release, Speaker Series
The Leakey Foundation has partnered with the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and Columbia College Chicago to bring primate behavioral ecologist John Mitani to Chicago for two exciting events about chimpanzee behavior.
From the Field: Abigale Koppa, ColoradoFrom the Field
After returning from her final field season in Amboseli, Abigale Koppa went to work at the Nutritional and Isotopic Ecology Lab (NIEL) at the University of Colorado Boulder to analyze plant samples she collected in Kenya.
Neanderthal-like Features in 450,000-Year-Old Fossil Teeth from ItalyJournal Article
Fossil teeth from Italy, among the oldest human remains on the Italian Peninsula, show that Neanderthal dental features had evolved by around 450,000 years ago.
Grantee Spotlight: Sofya DolotovskayaGrantee Spotlight
Titi monkeys are a textbook example of a “monogamous” primate. They live in apparently perfect families: mother, father, and several offspring. But are these families really that perfect, or do mates cheat on each other? That’s the main question of Leakey Foundation grantee Sofya Dolotovskaya's research project.
Mountain Gorilla Population Passes 1,000In the News
All species of gorillas are critically endangered according to the Red List maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but that does not mean there’s no hope for these animals.
California Academy of Sciences Welcomes New Anthropology CuratorIn the News
The Leakey Foundation is excited to welcome Dr. Todd Braje as the new Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences' Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability. This position was previously held by Leakey Foundation grantee Dr. Zeray Alemseged (2008-2017) and Leakey Foundation grantee and Scientific Executive Committee Member Dr. Nina Jablonski (1995-1998).
Guenon Monkeys Cross Species BoundaryJournal Article
Leakey Foundation grantee Kate Detwiler from Florida Atlantic University is the first to document that two genetically distinct species of guenon monkeys inhabiting Gombe National Park in Tanzania, Africa, have been successfully mating and producing hybrid offspring for hundreds maybe even thousands of years.
Mapping Trees Can Help Count Endangered LemursJournal Article
The vast majority of lemur species are on the edge of extinction, experts warn. But not every lemur species faces a grim future. A study funded in part by The Leakey Foundation has shown that there may be as many as 1.3 million white-fronted brown lemurs still in the wild, and mouse lemurs may number more than 2 million.
Mother’s Milk Holds Key to Unlocking an Evolutionary Mystery From the Last Ice AgeJournal Article, Guest Post
As biologists explore the variation across the genomes of living people, they’ve found evidence of evolution at work. Particular variants of genes increase or decrease in populations through time. Sometimes this happens by chance. Other times these changes in frequency result from the gene’s helping or hindering individuals’ survival.
Neanderthal Mother, Denisovan FatherJournal Article
Together with their sister group the Neanderthals, Denisovans are the closest extinct relatives of currently living humans. Now researchers have discovered a tiny fossil from an individual who is the offspring of a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.
Enigmatic Fossils Rewrite Story of When Lemurs Got to MadagascarJournal Article
Discovered more than half a century ago in Kenya and sitting in museum storage ever since, the roughly 20-million-year-old fossil Propotto leakeyi was long classified as a fruit bat. Now, it's helping researchers rethink the early evolution of lemurs, distant primate cousins of humans that today are only found on the island of Madagascar, some 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa.
Massive Monumental Cemetery Discovered in KenyaJournal Article
An international team, including Leakey Foundation grantees and researchers at Stony Brook University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, has found the earliest and largest monumental cemetery in eastern Africa.
Indigenous Peoples Day 2018In the News
There are at least 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries around the world. Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies within which they live.
Louis Leakey’s LegacyThe Leakey Foundation, Today in History
Louis S.B. Leakey was born on this day in 1903. To celebrate him and his legacy, we invite you to learn a little more about the jovial man who devoted his life to uncovering our shared past.
50th Anniversary Gala TriumphThe Leakey Foundation, Director's Diary
Leakey Foundation supporters and grantees gathered in San Francisco on May 3 to celebrate 50 years of exploration, discovery and sharing our human story.
First Report of Habitual Stone Tool Use by Cebus MonkeysJournal Article
White-faced capuchin monkeys in Panama’s Coiba National Park habitually use hammer-and-anvil stones to break hermit crab shells, snail shells, coconuts and other food items, according to research conducted by Leakey Foundation grantees. This is the first report of habitual stone-tool use by Cebus monkeys.
Foot of Dikika Child Shows How Our Ancestors MovedJournal Article
For the first time, we have an amazing window into what walking was like for a 2½-year-old, more than three million years ago.
Erin Vogel Intrigues Audience at the American Museum of Natural HistorySpeaker Series, Guest Post
On June 6th, Dr. Erin Vogel gave a lecture titled "Primate Palate: Orangutans, Obesity, and Human Evolution" as part of a joint production by the American Museum of Natural History and The Leakey Foundation.
Primates in PerilJournal Article
Primates are fascinating. They are intelligent, live in complex societies and are a vital part of the ecosystem. Lemurs, lorises, galagos, tarsiers, monkeys, and apes are our closest biological relatives and just like them, humans are also primates. However, while the human population has spread to all corners of the earth, many of our closest relatives are under serious threat.
Origin Stories Podcast Episode Wins Prix MarulićIn the News, The Leakey Foundation, Origin Stories
The Leakey Foundation's Origin Stories podcast has won the Prix Marulić International Audio Festival in the documentary category for “What They Left Behind” by producer Neil Sandell and editor Julia Barton.
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 37 Spring/Summer 2018Anthroquest
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 37 Spring/Summer 2018… more »
50th Anniversary Gala PortraitsThe Leakey Foundation, 50th Anniversary
The Leakey Foundation "Discovering Us" 50th Anniversary Gala included a portrait studio that captured elegant photos of our party guests. Please scroll through the gallery and share your photos on social media!
The Origins of UsGuest Post
The question of where we humans come from is one many people ask, and the answer is getting more complicated as new evidence is emerging all the time.
Ancient Music and the Cognitive RevolutionThe Leakey Foundation, Speaker Series
How and when did music begin? How does the discovery of 40,000-year-old bone flutes impact our understanding of music within the cognitive revolution? This one-hour session will focus on these important questions through a discussion of the discovery and context of Paleolithic bone flutes found in 2008 at Hohle Fels, a cave in southern Germany. Corey Jamason, SFCM chair of Historical Performance, will… more »
Fossil Finders: Kamoya KimeuGuest Post, Fossil Finders
Most paleontologists track their careers in terms of funding and expedition cycles, searching for fossils in finite windows of time and often spending months, even years waiting to return to promising sites. It is rare that someone is able to devote his or her life to searching for fossils, yet one man has done exactly that. That man is Kamoya Kimeu.
New Discovery Updates the Story of Early Human MigrationJournal Article, In the News
Researchers conducting archaeological fieldwork in the Nefud Desert of Saudi Arabia have discovered a fossilized finger bone of an early member of our species, Homo sapiens. The discovery is the oldest directly dated Homo sapiens fossil outside of Africa and the immediately adjacent Levant, and indicates that early dispersals into Eurasia were more expansive than previously thought.
How Infighting Turns Toxic for ChimpanzeesJournal Article
Power. Ambition. Jealousy. According to a new study, the same things that fuel deadly clashes in humans can also tear apart chimpanzees, our closest animal relatives.
In 16 Years, Borneo Lost More Than 100,000 OrangutansJournal Article, In the News
Over a 16-year period, about half of the orangutans living on the island of Borneo were lost as a result of changes in land cover.
Why Is Human Color Vision so Odd?Guest Post
Most mammals rely on scent rather than sight. Look at a dog’s eyes, for example: they’re usually on the sides of its face, not close together and forward-facing like ours. Having eyes on the side is good for creating a broad field of vision, but bad for depth perception and accurately judging distances in front.
New Egyptian Dinosaur Reveals Ancient Link Between Africa and EuropeIn the News, Journal Article
The course of dinosaur evolution in Africa has largely remained a mystery. But in the Sahara Desert of Egypt, scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur that helps fill in some gaps in the fossil record of dinosaurs in Africa: Mansourasaurus shahinae, a school-bus-length, long-necked plant-eater with bony plates embedded in its skin.
Earliest Modern Human Outside of Africa Unearthed in IsraelJournal Article, In the News
A jawbone complete with teeth recently discovered by at Israel's Misliya cave has now been dated to 177,000-194,000 years ago. The finding indicates that modern humans were present in the Levant at least 50,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Fossil Jawbone From Israel is the Oldest Modern Human Found Outside AfricaJournal Article, In the News, Guest Post
New fossil finds over the past few years have been forcing anthropologists to reexamine our evolutionary path to becoming human. Now the earliest modern human fossil ever found outside the continent of Africa is pushing back the date for when our ancestors left Africa.
Mandible Reveals the Complexity of Neanderthal OriginsJournal Article, In the News
With funding from The Leakey Foundation, a team of scientists has made fascinating new discoveries that shed light on the origins and evolution of Neanderthals.
Save the Date to Celebrate!The Leakey Foundation, Support Us
Save the Date for The Leakey Foundation's 50th anniversary gala! The celebration will take place on Thursday, May 3, 2018, at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco and we invite you to join us to celebrate 50 years of exploring, discovering, and sharing the human story.
10 Ways to Live Like Frank BrownGuest Post
Francis H. Brown was a beloved member of The Leakey Foundation family and co-chair of our Scientific Executive Committee. Frank Brown was a geologist who made enormous contributions to our collective understanding of human evolution. He was known for his curiosity, kindness, and generosity.
Frank Brown’s Scientific LegacyGuest Post, The Leakey Foundation
Frank Brown's study of the Omo-Turkana Basin over a 50-year period (1966-2016) provides the basis for a detailed chronology of human evolution.
Chimp Females Who Leave Home Postpone ParenthoodJournal Article, In the News
New moms need social support, and mother chimpanzees are no exception. So much so that female chimps that lack supportive friends and family wait longer to start having babies, according to researchers who have combed through the records of Jane Goodall's famous Gombe chimpanzees.
Scientists Discover New Orangutan SpeciesIn the News, Journal Article
With funding from The Leakey Foundation, scientists have discovered a new species of orangutan in Sumatra. This great ape is "among the most threatened great apes in the world."
Video: Isaiah NengoSpeaker Series, Video
On October 12, 2017, The Leakey Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Council of Science and Technology (C2ST) presented “Alesi: The Life, Death, and Discovery of an Ancestor” with speaker Isaiah Nengo. The recent discovery of a 13 million-year-old fossil infant ape skull has offered a rare glimpse of what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like. The fossil, nicknamed… more »
AnthroQuest vol. 2 no 36 Fall/Winter 2017Anthroquest
AnthroQuest vol. 2 no 36 Fall/Winter 2017… more »
Origin Stories: AncestorOrigin Stories
Just recently, the news media announced the discovery of a fossil ape called Alesi. This remarkable fossil was found in Kenya, and it’s from a time period where there’s a big blank spot in the fossil record of our family tree.
Origin Stories Season TwoThe Leakey Foundation, Origin Stories
Origin Stories is The Leakey Foundation’s podcast about how we became human. In six new episodes, Origin Stories takes you behind the scenes of some of the most exciting new discoveries in the study of human origins and profiles scientists whose work sheds light on some of the answers to the big questions about human evolution.
Questions and Answers About AlesiJournal Article, In the News, Behind the Science
Research findings on 'Alesi,' a newly discovered 13 million-year-old fossil ape species, were published this week in the journal Nature and the story has been widely carried in the press. The research team behind the Nyanzapithecus alesi discovery has collaborated to put together this list of questions and answers.
New 13 million-year-old infant skull sheds light on ape ancestryJournal Article, In the News
The discovery in Kenya of a remarkably complete fossil ape skull reveals what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like.
Stress and Human EvolutionVideo
How do trauma, poverty, and racial discrimination influence our health? What about our evolutionary history causes our bodies to respond in this way? Biological anthropologist Zaneta Thayer explores the biological mechanisms through which early life stress influences biology and health later on. This lecture took place at the American Museum of Natural History on April 5, 2017.
It’s not that your teeth are too big: your jaw is too smallGuest Post
We hold in our mouths the legacy of our evolution. We rarely consider just how amazing our teeth are.
Ngogo Chimpanzees on PatrolJournal Article, In the News
Territorial boundary patrolling by chimpanzees is a striking example of group-level cooperation displayed by our closest primate relatives.
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 35 Spring/Summer 2017Anthroquest
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 35 Spring/Summer 2017… more »
3.3 Million-Year-Old Fossil Reveals the Antiquity of the Human SpineJournal Article, In the News
For more than 3 million years, Selam lay silent and still. Eager to tell her story, the almost perfect fossil skeleton of a 2 1/2 year-old toddler was discovered at Dikika, Ethiopia -- and she had a lot to say.
Modern People Making Stone Age ToolsJournal Article, In the News
How did humans get to be so smart, and when did this happen? To untangle this question, we need to know more about the intelligence of our human ancestors who lived 1.8 million years ago. It was at this point in time that a new type of stone tool hit the scene and the human brain nearly doubled in size.
Science Speakeasy Showcases the Secrets of ScienceScience Speakeasy
How has evolution shaped gender, our favorite sports teams, and everyday life in general? Those are a just few of the topics that The Leakey Foundation's new Science Speakeasy event series will set off to explore. Science Speakeasy mixes science with storytelling, hands-on experiments, drinks and lively conversation.
March for ScienceIn the News, The Leakey Foundation
On April 22nd, The Leakey Foundation staff will be joining the March For Science in San Francisco, Santa Rosa, and New Orleans. Want to join us? You can meet up with our Leakey Foundation group in San Francisco , or download our sign and march with us virtually!
Follow the Leader?Origin Stories
Every animal that lives in groups has to make decisions as a group. Even a seemingly simple decision like "where should we go for dinner?" can be complicated to negotiate.
Director’s Diary: France and GermanyThe Leakey Foundation, Director's Diary, Travel
When I stood in the dimly lit overhang at Abri de Cap Blanc in the Dordogne region of France and my eyes beheld the carved horse in sandstone (15,000ya) I was reminded that the capabilities to imagine and create lie deep in our species’ DNA.
Beyond the Cave WallGuest Post, Travel
Sharon Metzler Dow is a Leakey Foundation Fellow. She traveled to France with The Leakey Foundation and wrote this poem inspired by her experiences on the trip.
Name Our New Event SeriesThe Leakey Foundation
The Leakey Foundation is hosting a new series of short science talks from great minds. These events are for ages 21 and up and feature fascinating talks, interactive activities, a full bar, delicious food, and plenty of time for asking questions and discussing science with your fellow attendees. Help us choose the best name for this fun science event series.
Twenty-Five Little Bones Tell a Puzzling Story About Early Primate EvolutionJournal Article, In the News
A cache of exquisitely preserved bones, found in a coal mine in the state of Gujarat, India, appear to be the most primitive primate bones yet discovered, according to an analysis led by researchers from The Johns Hopkins University and Des Moines University, funded in part by a grant from The Leakey Foundation.
Being Human: Born and Evolved to RunGuest Post, Being Human
Running. Some people love it, getting in the zone and enjoying that “runner’s high”. Some people tolerate it as a necessary way to stay fit. Others, and I admit I’m in this camp, can’t see the appeal, unless they’re being chased by some terrifying beast or a swarm of bees….
Origin Stories Podcast is Science Media Awards FinalistThe Leakey Foundation, Origin Stories
The Leakey Foundation's Origin Stories podcast was selected as a finalist in the Science Media Awards for excellence in the category "Audible Science: Radio and Podcasts."
Why I am Excited to Run the San Francisco MarathonThe Leakey Foundation, Guest Post, Being Human
The evidence that we were not only born to run but also evolved to run comes from abundant fossil and archaeological data.
Being Human: Your Brain on ArtGuest Post, Being Human
The Mona Lisa’s smile has intrigued countless viewers, from art historians to the average tourist walking past it in the Louvre. What is the secret behind this enigma?
The Secret Lives of Female ChimpanzeesSpeaker Series
Come learn about the fascinating lives of female chimpanzees with Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST) and The Leakey Foundation. Female apes are often overshadowed by their larger, more boisterous male counterparts. The subtlety of social behavior in female chimpanzees belies a complex set of strategies that allow them to navigate the costs and benefits of group life. By combining decades… more »
Being Human: Robert Sapolsky VideoVideo, Being Human
Check out the video from our Being Human event in October 2015 and find a special offer for our next event on July 28th.
Lucy Had Neighbors: A Review of African FossilsJournal Article
If “Lucy” wasn’t alone, who else was in her neighborhood? Key fossil discoveries over the last few decades in Africa indicate that multiple early human ancestor species lived at the same time more than 3 million years ago. A new review of fossil evidence from the last few decades examines four identified hominin species that co-existed between 3.8 and 3.3 million years ago during the… more »
Upper Paleolithic Dietary StrategiesJournal Article
The Neanderthal lineage survived for hundreds of thousands of years despite the severe temperature fluctuations of the Ice Age. The reasons… more »
Rough Childhoods Have Ripple Effects for Wild BaboonsJournal Article
A new study supported by The Leakey Foundation finds that wild baboons that experience multiple misfortunes during the first years of life grow up to live much shorter adult lives.
AnthroQuest Vol. 2 No. 33 Spring/Summer 2016Anthroquest
AnthroQuest Volume 2, Issue 33 Spring/Summer 2016… more »
Origin Stories: Face MitesOrigin Stories
Listen as we explore the lives of face mites, and learn how studying these close personal friends of ours may help us answer new questions about our own evolution.
Ancient wildebeest-like animal shared ‘bizarre’ feature with dinosaurJournal Article
By poring over the fossilized skulls of ancient wildebeest-like animals unearthed on Kenya’s Rusinga Island, researchers have discovered that the little-known hoofed mammals had a very unusual, trumpet-like nasal passage similar only to the nasal crests of lambeosaurine hadrosaur dinosaurs.
Animated Life: Mary LeakeyEducation, Video
This wonderful animated documentary by Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck remembers the life and work of Mary Leakey.
Grandmothers and the evolution of pair bondsJournal Article
If you are in a special relationship with another person, thank grandma - not just yours, but all grandmothers since humans evolved.
Origin Stories Episode 04: How to Document a SocietyOrigin Stories
This episode of Origin Stories is about what it takes to document the daily lives of chimpanzees, what we’ve learned, and how to handle all the data that’s been collected during the longest running study of any animal in the wild. In the 55 years since Louis Leakey sent Jane Goodall to the Gombe forest to study chimpanzees, we’ve learned a lot about the lives and behavior of these wonderful… more »
Chimpanzee ‘Laugh Faces’Journal Article
Marina Davila-Ross was awarded a grant from The Leakey Foundation in the spring of 2015 for her research project entitled “Systematically testing facial thermal imaging as a most sensitive and reliable novel technology to directly compare subtle emotion changes in apes and humans.” Her work on facial expressions and laughter in chimpanzees was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.… more »
Being Human: An Initiative and Partnership with the Baumann FoundationIn the News, The Leakey Foundation, Being Human
The Leakey Foundation is thrilled to announce Being Human, a new collaboration with the Baumann Foundation.
New Species of Early Human Discovered in EthiopiaJournal Article, In the News
A new relative joins “Lucy” on the human family tree. An international team of scientists led by seven-time Leakey Foundation grantee Dr. Yohannes Haile-Selassie of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has discovered a 3.3 to 3.5 million-year-old new hominin species (more closely related to humans than to chimps). Upper and lower jaw fossils recovered from the Woranso-Mille area… more »
Baboons prefer to spend time with others of the same age, status, and personalityIn the News
New research funded in part by The Leakey Foundation shows that chacma baboons within a troop spend more of their time with baboons that have similar characteristics to themselves: associating with those of a similar age, dominance rank and even personality type such as boldness. This is known as homophily, or ‘love of the same’.… more »
Apes under pressure show their ingenuity – and hint at our own evolutionary pastGuest Post
By Susana Carvalho, George Washington University Chimpanzees are wily enough to adapt in some ways when people encroach on their turf. Kimberley Hockings, CC BY-NC-ND In the mid 20th century, when paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey sent three pioneering women to study great apes in their natural habitats, the Earth’s wilderness was still untouched in many places. Jane Goodall went to Gombe in Tanzania… more »
Origin Stories Episode 01: On Two Feet with Carol WardOrigin Stories
Every good story starts at the beginning. In the first episode of Origin Stories we talk with Carol Ward about one of the first things that distinguished our ancestors from the other primates, the weird way we walk around. Carol Ward is Curator’s Professor and Director of Anatomical Sciences in the integrative anatomy program at the University of Missouri, where she directs the Ward Laboratory. Her… more »
Introducing Origin Stories: The Leakey Foundation PodcastThe Leakey Foundation, Origin Stories
Origin Stories is our new podcast about what it means to be human and the science behind what we know about ourselves. We'll have interviews and stories from scientists about their research on a vast and fascinating range of topics. We'll learn about the biology and the millions of years of evolution that shape the way we look and act today.
Jane Goodall on InstinctVideo
In this charming animated interview from the PBS Series Blank on Blank, Jane Goodall discusses her early dreams of studying animals in the wild, and how meeting Louis Leakey in Kenya made it possible for her to start her pioneering chimpanzee research.… more »
Fossil jaw sheds light on the early evolution of HomoIn the News
A close up view of the fossil just steps from where it was discovered by Chalachew Seyoum. Photo by Brian Villmoare. A fossil lower jaw found in the Afar Region of Ethiopia pushes back evidence for the human genus Homo to 2.8 million years ago. The jaw with five teeth was found by Chalachew Seyoum, a Baldwin Fellow and Arizona State University paleoanthropology graduate student from Ethiopia.… more »
Guest Post: Why walk on two legs?Speaker Series, Guest Post
By Jeremy DeSilva of Boston University. Jeremy will discuss the question “Why walk on two legs?” along with Brian Richmond during a SciCafe at the American Museum of Natural History on April 1, 2015. This article is an excellent introduction to the pros and cons of bipedalism. Humans are weird. We are mammals, yet we have very little body hair. We are primates, yet unlike most primates, we are… more »
Survival of the fleetest, smartest, or fattest?Speaker Series, Video
Our understanding of human evolution has grown exponentially since Darwin’s time. This week marks the 206th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, so we’re sharing a Darwin-related Leakey Foundation lecture from our archives. In this lecture, recorded in 2009 at the Field Museum in Chicago, Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University discusses the evolution and dysevolution… more »
Cranium discovery sheds light on early human migrationIn the News
Leakey Foundation grantees Israel Hershkovitz and Ofer Marder led an international team of archaeologists who discovered a 55,000 year old cranium in Manot Cave in Israel. Their discovery was described last week in the journal Nature. Photo courtesy of : Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority A key event in human evolution was the expansion of modern humans of African origin across Eurasia, replacing… more »
In Memoriam: Brad GoodhartThe Leakey Foundation
It is with profound sadness that we share with you the passing of Brad Goodhart, the devoted husband of the Foundation’s Grants Officer Paddy Moore-Goodhart. Brad Goodhart and Paddy Moore-Goodhart on one of their many adventures. Brad had an enduring love for Africa’s people and nature, having led over 100 tours of East Africa over the past 35 years. He was a Board Member of the African Orphans… more »