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.
Grants, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On May 4, 2019, The Leakey Foundation's board of trustees unanimously approved 35 grant proposals for funding. We are proud to introduce our spring 2019 research grant recipients, and we look forward to sharing news and information about them and their research.
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.
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