Name ID 1244
Dente, Jenny Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey 1913-1996
Page Number: 10
Extract Date: 1959
Although she enjoyed this artistic interlude to her career, Mary soon found herself back in the dirt, this time excavating in Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania. Louis had first visited the gorge in 1931 and was overwhelmed by the wealth of archaeological material existing there, but for many years he lacked the money to initiate a proper excavation. Finally, in 1951, with some monetary assistance from Charles Boise, the Leakeys were able to establish a base camp and begin their investigations.
The next seven years brought steady progress but no incredible finds. Then, the morning of July 17, 1959, Mary was walking through site FLK with her Dalmatians (Louis was sick at camp with the flu), when she caught sight of what looked like a hominid skull protruding from the ground. On closer investigation, she saw that two teeth were still intact in the upper jaw and that everything appeared in situ. She'd discovered "Zinjanthropus" (later named Australopithecus Boise). Scientists agree that "Zinj" is on an evolutionary side branch-not a direct human ancestor; however, the 1.75-million-year-old specimen was the first of his species ever found, and at the time of his discovery, the oldest hominid. Mary says in her autobiography, "two major discoveries marked turning points in my life, the finding of Proconsul in 1948, and the finding of Zinj in 1959."