Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings

Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings

Morell, Virginia



Abe Books summaries:

"Virginia Morell writes authoritatively about the Leakey's many significant finds as they pushed back our ancestry and articulated our relationship to the other primates, especially the early hominids."

"There is a pleasing irony that a single family--the Leakeys--has been one of the most important and effective forces in the age-old effort to trace the human family to its origins. Virginia Morell's book is a fascinating and authoritative personal and scientific biography of the real family (comprised of Louis, Mary, and Richard Leakey), their scientific progeny, and (again in a fitting touch of irony), the competing bands of modern anthropologists competing over limited paleontological and conceptual resources of publication, prestige, and power, much like ancient hominid bands competing for caves, copulations, and carcasses."

"No other family in history has dominated a scientific field as the Leakey family has. Louis, Mary, and Richard Leakey have made key fossil discoveries that have shaped and reshaped our understanding of human origins. As a member of the tiny minority of scientists who believed that humankind originated in Africa millions of years ago, Louis Leakey helped to lay the theoretical groundwork for the science of paleoanthropology. In Ancestral Passions, Virginia Morell has written the first full biography of the Leakeys, a vivid portrait of a family whose contributions to science remain unmatched.".

"This is a fascinating biography of the Leakey clan, the royalty of anthropology/archeology."

"A book by the correspondent for the journal Science and the author of countless articles--which have appeared in magazines such as Discover, Outside and The New York Times Magazine."

Book ID 646

See also

Morell, Virginia Ancestral Passions: The Leakey Family and the Quest for Humankind's Beginnings, 1995
Page Number: 029
Extract Date: feb 1924


From an old family friend, C.W.Hobley, he [Louis Leakey] learned that the British Museum of Natural History was organizing a dinosaur fosil-collecting expedition to Tendagaru in Tanganyika Territory (now Tanzania). Tendaguru had been discovered in 1914 by German scientists, who had returned with a complete skeleton of Brachiosaurus, one of the largest land animals ever to have lived. Now after the British ruled Tanganyika (under a League of Nations mandate issued after the Germans lost the war), they, too, wanted a skeleton of one of these fabulous creatures. The museum had hired a dinosaur expert, William E. Cutler, but they needed someone with African experience to handle the logistics.

Louis landed the job, and on the last day of February 1924 he joined Cutler on board a steamer bound for Dar es Salaam. "My luck," Louis noted, "had certainly turned in a most unexpected manner."

Extract ID: 3579