Full Name: Mary Leakey [Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey]
Why Famous: Discovered the earliest (3.6 million year old) human footprints at Laetoli, Tanzania.
Her fossil and archaeological discoveries at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania provide evidence for human evolution in Africa and include the discovery of the extinct human species Homo Habilis and Zinjanthropus boisei (now Paranthropus Boisei).
- 1948-10-06 Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey finds the first partial fossil skull of Proconsul africanus, an ancestor of apes and humans on Rusinga Island, Kenya.
- 1959-07-17 Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovers the partial skull of a new species of early human ancestor, Zinjanthropus boisei or 'Zinj' (now called Paranthropus boisei) that lived in Africa almost 2 million years ago
- 1960-11-02 Mary Leakey and her team discover the first fossils of Homo habilis, an early human ancestor, at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Homo habilis is thought to be one of the earliest species to make stone tools and lived between 1.4 and 2.3 million years ago.