Meredith Johnson

Meredith Johnson's Blog Posts

09.25.20

Grantee Spotlight: Jeff Spear

Grantee Spotlight
Jeff Spears 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.
09.23.20

Grantee Spotlight: Shasta Webb

Grantee 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.
09.22.20

A Leakey Foundation Remembrance of Ann Getty

The 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.
09.09.20

New fossil ape discovered in India

Journal 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.
09.02.20

Grantee Spotlight: Hailay Reda

Grantee 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."
08.31.20

Speaker Series Returns October 20

Speaker 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.
08.05.20

Grantee Spotlight: Stephanie Fox

Grantee 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.
08.03.20

Parasites and the Microbiome

Journal 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.
07.30.20

Life Trustee Barry Sterling Dies at Age 90

The 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.
07.27.20

Science Through Visual Stories

Video
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!
06.18.20

Introducing the 2020 Baldwin Fellows

Grants
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.
05.19.20

Down Ancient Trails

Education, 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.
04.21.20

Lesson Plans for Online Learning

The 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.
04.09.20

Origin Stories: The Cave Punan

Origin 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.
04.02.20

Humans of Anthropology

The 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.
03.30.20

Grantee Spotlight: Harmonie Klein

Grantee 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.
03.25.20

Grantee Spotlight: Mareike Janiak

Grantee 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.
03.17.20

From the Field: Margaret Buehler

From 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?
03.04.20

Video: Science Through Story

Video
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.
02.05.20

Archaeological Discoveries Are Happening Faster Than Ever Before

Guest 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.
01.20.20

Monkeys Smashing Nuts Hint at How Human Tool Use Evolved

Journal Article, Guest Post
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.
12.04.19

Origin Stories: The Denisovans

Origin 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.
11.22.19

Fossil Finders: Heselon Mukiri

Guest 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. 
11.15.19

Global Climate Change Concerns for Africa’s Lake Victoria

Journal 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.
11.14.19

From the Field: Kelly Ostrofsky, Uganda

From 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.
11.04.19

Grantee Spotlight: Andrew Bernard

Grantee 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.
10.28.19

Grantee Spotlight: Kelly Ostrofsky

Grantee 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.
10.19.19

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. 
10.02.19

Grantee Spotlight: Amy Scott

Grantee 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.
09.30.19

Fall Speaker Series on Human Origins

Speaker 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."
08.23.19

From the Field: Lauren Michel, Rusinga Island, Kenya

From 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.
08.20.19

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!
08.14.19

Early Hominins Grew Their Spinal Columns Like Modern Humans

Journal 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.
08.05.19

Darwin: A Primate’s Tale

Primate 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.
07.12.19

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.
07.02.19

Bonobo Diet of Aquatic Greens May Hold Clues to Human Evolution

Journal 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.
06.28.19

Neanderthals Made Repeated Use of Open Air Settlement in Northern Israel

Journal 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.
06.25.19

A Shared Past for East Africa’s Hunter-Gatherers

Journal 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.
06.19.19

Leakey Foundation Grantee Featured in New PBS and Smithsonian Channel Film

In 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.
06.05.19

From the Field: Brenna Henn, South Africa

From 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.
05.31.19

Fossil Finders: The Hominid Gang

Guest 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.
05.30.19

Unraveling the Mystery of Human Bipedality

Guest 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.
05.29.19

From the Field: Frido Welker, Copenhagen

From 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.
05.20.19

Evolution and the Mammalian Spine

Journal 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.
05.16.19

From the Field: Kevin Hatala, Nariokotome, Kenya

From 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.
05.13.19

Homo naledi and the Chamber of Secrets

Speaker 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.
04.30.19

Grantee Spotlight: Frido Welker

Grantee 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.
04.23.19

From the Field: Chris Gilbert, India

From 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.
04.10.19

Grantee Spotlight: Benjamin Finkel

Grantee 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?
04.10.19

New Species of Early Human Discovered in the Philippines

Journal 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.
03.25.19

Fossil Teeth from Kenya Solve Ancient Monkey Mystery

Journal 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.
03.18.19

From the Field: Sofya Dolotovskaya, Peru

From 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.
03.11.19

New Chimpanzee Culture Discovered

Journal 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.
03.04.19

From the Field: Deming Yang, Kenya

From 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.
02.06.19

Grantee Spotlight: Alba García de la Chica

Grantee 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.
02.05.19

Fresh Clues to the Life and Times of the Denisovans

Journal 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.
02.01.19

New Studies Reveal the History of Denisova Cave

Journal 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.
01.28.19

The Diversity of Rural African Populations Extends to Microbiomes

Journal 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.
01.25.19

Understanding Australopithecus sediba

Journal 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.
12.19.18

Baboons and the Link Between Social Status and Health

Journal 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.
12.11.18

New Dates for Ancient Stone Tools in China

Journal 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.
12.05.18

Origin Stories: Carl Sagan

Uncategorized
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.
12.05.18

From the Field: Rachel Bynoe, Happisburgh

From 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.
11.30.18

Origin Stories: Carl Sagan

Origin 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.
11.14.18

From the Field: Rosa Moll, Morocco

From 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.
11.07.18

Origin Stories Returns November 15

Origin 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.
10.30.18

Grantee Spotlight: Jonathan Reeves

Grantee 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.
10.26.18

Grantee Spotlight: Rachel Bynoe

Grantee 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.
10.16.18

From the Field: Abigale Koppa, Colorado

From 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.
10.02.18

Grantee Spotlight: Sofya Dolotovskaya

Grantee 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.
09.24.18

Mountain Gorilla Population Passes 1,000

In 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.
09.24.18

California Academy of Sciences Welcomes New Anthropology Curator

In 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).
09.18.18

Guenon Monkeys Cross Species Boundary

Journal 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.
09.11.18

Mapping Trees Can Help Count Endangered Lemurs

Journal 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.
08.23.18

Neanderthal Mother, Denisovan Father

Journal 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.
08.22.18

Enigmatic Fossils Rewrite Story of When Lemurs Got to Madagascar

Journal 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.
08.22.18

Massive Monumental Cemetery Discovered in Kenya

Journal 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.
08.09.18

Indigenous Peoples Day 2018

In 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.
07.11.18

First Report of Habitual Stone Tool Use by Cebus Monkeys

Journal 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.
06.20.18

Primates in Peril

Journal 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.
05.15.18

The Origins of Us

Guest 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.
04.27.18

Ancient Music and the Cognitive Revolution

The 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 »
04.13.18

Fossil Finders: Kamoya Kimeu

Guest 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.
04.10.18

New Discovery Updates the Story of Early Human Migration

Journal 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.
02.20.18

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.
01.12.18

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.
12.27.17

10 Ways to Live Like Frank Brown

Guest 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.
10.20.17

Video: Isaiah Nengo

Speaker 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 »
08.31.17

Origin Stories: Ancestor

Origin 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.
08.25.17

Origin Stories Season Two

The 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.
08.10.17

Questions and Answers About Alesi

Journal 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.
08.03.17

Stress and Human Evolution

Video
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.
05.19.17

Modern People Making Stone Age Tools

Journal 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.
05.16.17

Science Speakeasy Showcases the Secrets of Science

Science 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.
04.21.17

March for Science

In 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!
03.07.17

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.
12.05.16

Beyond the Cave Wall

Guest 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.
10.26.16

Name Our New Event Series

The 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.
08.15.16

Being Human: Born and Evolved to Run

Guest 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….
06.15.16

Lucy Had Neighbors: A Review of African Fossils

Journal 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 »
05.25.16

Upper Paleolithic Dietary Strategies

Journal Article
The Neanderthal lineage survived for hundreds of thousands of years despite the severe temperature fluctuations of the Ice Age. The reasons
more »
02.25.16

Origin Stories: Face Mites

Origin 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.
08.05.15

Origin Stories Episode 04: How to Document a Society

Origin 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 »
06.12.15

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 »
05.15.15

Baboons prefer to spend time with others of the same age, status, and personality

In 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’.
“This happens in humans all the time; we hang out with people who have the same
more »
05.12.15

Apes under pressure show their ingenuity – and hint at our own evolutionary past

Guest Post
By Susana CarvalhoGeorge 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 »
05.06.15

Origin Stories Episode 01: On Two Feet with Carol Ward

Origin 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 »
03.26.15

Jane Goodall on Instinct

Video
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 »
03.06.15

Fossil jaw sheds light on the early evolution of Homo

In 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 »
02.11.15

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 »
02.05.15

Cranium discovery sheds light on early human migration

In 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 »
01.15.15

In Memoriam: Brad Goodhart

The 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 Orphansmore »