Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey died at 78

Dr. Richard Erskine Freer Leakey, paleoanthropologist and former head of Kenya’s public service, has died at the age of 77. This was announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on his website on January 2.

“Dr. Leakey, a world-renowned Kenyan paleoanthropologist and conservationist, served our country with distinction for many years in several public service positions, including as director of Kenya’s National Museums and chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service Board of Directors,” Mr. Kenyata wrote.

The Kenyan president noted that Leakey, in addition to a distinguished career in public service, was known for his community service: he founded and successfully led several institutions, including WildlifeDirect, a conservation organization.

On behalf of the people of Kenya, his family and himself, the president extended his condolences to Dr. Richard Leakey’s family, friends and colleagues.

Richard Leakey was born in Nairobi on December 19, 1944. His parents were British paleontologists Mary and Louis Leakey. In 1960, they discovered the first remains of the protohuman species Homo habilis (“Skillful Man”) in northern Tanzania.

Like his parents, Richard worked as a photographer and tour guide, accompanied tourists to nature reserves, and helped organize film shoots. On the scientific activities did not think, but in 1964 began to search for the remains of ancient people, organized several expeditions.

In 1972, Richard Leakey and his wife Maeve discovered the skull of Rudolfian man (Homo rudolfensis) on the shore of Lake Turkana. In 1984, Leakey discovered the skeleton of the so-called Turkana boy on Lake Turkana.

Leakey was politically active, founding the green and center-left Safina political party. In 1994, he was awarded the Hubbard Medal, which is awarded by the National Geographic Society of the United States (the highest award) for outstanding geographical discoveries.