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Leakey, Richard (1944–)

The idea that humans gradually evolved from a fragile habitat of apelike creatures in Africa to bipedal, technological masters of the world has become an important—if not always accepted—part of defining modern society and culture. Although Darwin spoke of the descent of man, Richard Leakey—the son of the famous paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey—popularized the idea of human origins through his groundbreaking discoveries, his bestselling books, and his masterful melding of popular writing with scientific rigor.

While being raised in Africa by the world-famous Leakeys as they searched for hominid bones in the Olduvai Gorge in Kenya, Richard developed a keen interest in East Africa's diverse wildlife. His interest in wildlife and his passion for environmental preservation did not stop as he delved into paleoanthropology. His ...

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