Tobias, Philip Valentine

Tobias, Philip Valentine,

1925–2012, South African paleoanthropologist, b. Durban. He graduated from the Univ. of Witwatersrand (Ph.D., 1953) and taught there for five decades. Tobias entered paleoanthropology in 1959 when Louis and Mary LeakeyLeakey, Louis Seymour Bazett
, 1903–72, British archaeologist and anthropologist of E Africa, b. Kabete, Kenya; father of Richard Leakey. His fossil discoveries in E Africa demonstrated that humans were far older than had previously been suspected.
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 invited him to study and restore part of a hominin jawbone they had found at Olduvai GorgeOlduvai Gorge
, a feature of the E African Rift Valley in Tanzania. Erosional processes have exposed geological strata in the gorge dating to the lower Pleistocene epoch, about 1.8 million to 600,000 years ago.
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. He wrote a classic treatise on this "Dear Boy" jaw, leading to a long association with the Leakeys during which he reconstructed fossil skulls and measured brain size, and identified and described a new human species, Homo habilis. In 1966 he began excavations at South Africa's Sterkfontein caves, where he and his team found and analyzed hundreds of hominin fossils and tools; many contemporaneous animal fossils also were found. Tobias was also an active opponent of apartheidapartheid
[Afrik.,=apartness], system of racial segregation peculiar to the Republic of South Africa, the legal basis of which was largely repealed in 1991–92. History
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.

Bibliography

See J. Dugard and G. Strkalj, ed., Tobias in Conversation (2009) and his autobiography (2005).

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