By Natalie Evans
Famous British archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey has been honoured with a Google doodle to mark what would have been her 100th birthday.
Born in London on February 6, 1913, her passion for fossils was influenced by her ancestor, antiquarian John Frere, and cousin, archaeologist Sheppard Frere.
Leakey was 12 years old when she was given the opportunity to accompany French archaeologist Elie Peyrony, where she began to collect points, scrapers, and blades from the dump.
The Google doodle represents one of Leakey’s most famous achievements – the discovery of 3.5 million-year-old fossilised hominid footprints, at Laetoli in Tanzania.
The major discovery proved beyond reasonable doubt that australopithecines – an extinct ancestor of humans – walked upright.
The doodle features two Dalmatians, Leakey’s beloved dogs which accompanied her to many excavation sites.
Leakey was also responsible for the discovery of the fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape that is believed to be ancestor to humans.
She also excavated the Zinjanthropus skull, an early hominin, at Olduvai Gorge, in eastern Africa, and is credited with developing a system to classify stone tools found at the site.
The name Leakey is synonymous with archaeological discoveries – Mary’s husband Louis and sons Jonathan, Richard and Philip also worked in the same trade and often explored as a family.
Mary Leakey died on December 9, 1996, at the age of 83, leaving a lasting palaeoanthropology legacy which has been continued through her sons’ work.