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Richard Leakey, Kenyan Fossil Hunter and Conservationist, Dies at 77

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“I was angry to this day that they took the bone away from me because it was too important for a 4-year-old to be digging up,” he mentioned.

After he determined to pursue fossil looking, he first sought a level in anthropology in London however ran out of cash earlier than beginning and returned to Kenya to be taught the topic firsthand. He had, after all, already had extra expertise within the area than most graduate anthropologists.

Mr. Leakey ultimately discovered his manner again into the classroom when he discovered fame as a fossil hunter and turned a sought-after lecturer. His talks drew big paying crowds of each keen college students and established students.

He had by no means been to a college, he favored to say, besides to lecture.

His survivors embody his spouse Meave, herself a famend paleoanthropologist, and his daughters Louise and Samira, in response to WildlifeDirect. He additionally has three grandchildren, Professor Martin mentioned.

Mr. Leakey believed strongly in a message his father had written way back, that the previous was the “key to our future.” For him, paleoanthropology and conservation have been “deeply entwined,” mentioned Paige Madison, a paleoanthropology historian primarily based in Copenhagen.

Toward the tip of his life, Mr. Leakey dreamed of constructing a museum of humankind, to be referred to as Ngaren. It could be located within the Rift Valley of Kenya, the location of considered one of his most well-known discoveries, the Turkana Boy.

“Ngaren is not just another museum, but a call to action,” Mr. Leakey mentioned in a 2019 assertion asserting its opening, scheduled for 2024. “As we peer back through the fossil record, through layer upon layer of long extinct species, many of which thrived far longer than the human species is ever likely to do, we are reminded of our mortality as a species.”