Over half a century, Mary Leakey labored under the hot African sun, scratching in the dirt for clues to early human physical and cultural evolution.
In a biography of the Leakey family, ``Ancestral Passions,'' published last year by Simon & Schuster, Virginia Morell characterized Mary Leakey as ``the grand dame of archeology.
Beginning in the 1930s, Mary Leakey and her late husband, Louis, awakened the world to Africa's primary place in human origins with their spectacular discoveries and increasingly pushed back the time of those origins much earlier than had been thought.
Meanwhile, Mary Leakey worked in her husband's shadow, seeing to the plodding excavations and meticulous documentation of their finds.
After Louis Leakey's death in 1972, Mary Leakey overcame some of her natural shyness to assume direction of the family fossil enterprise, which by then one of their sons, Richard, joined as an expedition leader.
The work and personality of Mary Leakey is provided by her life-long friend THURSTAN SHAW.
An appreciation of the work of the late Mary Leakey is especially appropriate in this context.
Here we have a remarkable piece by the well-known Africanist, THURSTAN SHAW, on his long-time friend and colleague, MARY LEAKEY.
Mary Leakey must rank as one of the greatest contributors to our knowledge of this story, and as such all humankind is in her debt.
It is good to know that the Leakey Foundation has established the Mary Leakey Fund for African Archaeology, to benefit research workers pursuing interests similar to those of Mary.