Louis Leakey (1903-1972) had a hunch that Charles Darwin was correct in guessing that Africa was the probable "cradle of mankind," and he set out to prove it. Born in Kenya to Church of England missionaries, Leakey went to England to obtain a doctorate in anthropology from Cambridge. There, in 1933, he met and married Mary Nicol, and the couple returned to East Africa, where they spent the rest of their lives searching for fossils at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania.

After years of patient archaeological work there, in 1957 Mary (actually, her Dalmatian dogs) found a fossil skull that brought the Leakeys international fame: a large australopith, or man-ape, known as Zinjanthropus, or "nutcracker" man. Later, Louis also discovered a new kind of human, Homo habilis, the first of a series of fossil hominids believed to be very close to our ancestral line.

Louis died in 1972, having accomplished his goal of helping to map out human prehistory. Six years after his death, Mary found a remarkable series of footprints preserved in rock. Dated to 3.5 million years ago, they were evidence of three four-foot-tall, upright-walking prehumans. The walkers strolled upright, and did not lean forward on their knuckles, like modern apes.

During the 1970s, Richard Leakey, one of Louis and Mary's sons, stepped out of his father's shadow by finding the oldest, most complete skull of a Homo habilis, and a decade later recovered the first complete skeleton of a Homo erectus--popularly known as the Turkana boy.

Richard's former wife, Meave, announced her discovery in 1995 of a new species of fossil man-ape called Australopithecus amanensis, an upright walking creature with some apelike features of the face and jaw. When it comes to finding precious relics of the human past, the Leakey luck still holds.

  路易思•李基Louis Leakey(1903-1972)預感達爾文(Charles Darwin)猜測人類的起源地是在非洲這個看法是正確的,於是他決定要證明這個猜測。Louis是出生在肯亞的英格蘭傳教士家庭,為了獲得人類學博士的頭銜,他前往英國劍橋大學。在1933年,他認識並且與Mary Nicol結婚。婚後二人回到東非,在坦尚尼亞的Olduvai峽谷花了他們大部分的歲月尋找化石。

  經過了長年的耐心考古發覺工作之後,在1957年,Mary(實際上是她的大麥町)發現了一個化石頭蓋骨,而這個頭蓋骨也使Leakey一家人獲得了世界性的榮耀。這個頭蓋骨是屬於一個大型南猿(australopith),或稱人猿(man-ape),後被稱為Zinjanthropus(東非人)或胡桃鉗(nutcracker)人。稍後,Louis發現一個新的人類–巧人(Homo habilis),這是一系列被認為是最接近現今人類的祖先的化石人之一。

  Louis在1972離開人世,並且完成了幫忙描繪出人類史前史的目標。六年後,Mary發現一系列保存在岩石上的著名腳印。這些腳印年代約在距今三百五十萬年以前,在腳印推斷這些腳印可能是由三個四呎高、直立行走的前人類。這些腳印的主人當初是直立的四處行走,並且並非如現代的猿類是將膝蓋前傾行走的。

  在1970年代,Richard Leakey,Louis 和Mary的兒子,因為找到最古老的、最完整的巧人頭蓋骨,並且在十年之後,復原第一個完整的直立人(Homo erectus)–現在所熟悉的Turkana boy–走出因他有一個有名的父親所帶給他的陰影。

  Richard的前妻,Meave,在1995年宣佈她發現了一個新種的化石人–Australopithecus amanensis (一種南猿),這個化石人世直立行走的生物,並且擁有類似猿的臉型及下顎骨特徵。當這珍貴的過去人類遺骸被發現,代表考古學界所稱的“the Leakey luck”仍然存在。