Meave Leakey

Meave Leakey Ph.D., together with the distinguished Leakey family, is one of the world’s most celebrated paleontologists. In 1989, Meave became the coordinator of the paleontological field research in the Turkana Basin in Northern Kenya, after taking over from her husband Dr. Richard Leakey. Her work in the Turkana basin includes the 1999 discovery of that completely redefined our understanding of early human ancestry: a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw (which she named Kenyanthropus Platyops, or flat-faced man of Kenya) said to belong to a new branch of our early human family. Announced in the journal Nature and the subject of numerous front-page stories in major newspapers worldwide, this amazing discovery drew international attention, re-ignited the discussion of our ancient origins, and challenged the view that human beings descended from a single line of evolution.


Meave Leakey has worked at the National Museums of Kenya since 1969. Having retired from her position as Head of Department of Paleontology, Dr. Leakey is now a Research Associate in the Paleontology Division. She is a Research Professor at Stony Brook University, New York. She is the recipient of numerous awards including two honorary degrees from Stony Brook University and the University College of London, and was a recipient of the Academy of Achievement Award in 2004. She was named a National Geographic “explorer-in-residence,” in honor of the 50-year relationship between “the National Geographic Society and the Leakey family dynasty of pioneering fossil hunters.”


To learn more about Meave Leakey, visit or visit the Turkana Basin Institute and the Koobi Fora Research Projct websites.

Published work

Lothagam: The Dawn of Humanity in Eastern Africa (Columbia University Press, February 2003)