On July 17, 1959, British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey discovered a skull from an ancient hominid species, Paranthropus boisei, or “southern ape.” The skull was the first specimen of this species, nicknamed “Nutcracker Man,” to be found. The P. boisei skull is about 1.8 million years old, and was unearthed in Olduvai Gorge, part of the Serengeti Plains of Tanganyika (now Tanzania).

The Leakey family continues to foster distinguished fossil hunters. Forty years after Mary Leakey discovered Nutcracker Man, her daughter-in-law Maeve and granddaughter Louise helped lead a team that discovered yet another new species of ancient hominid, a 3.5 million-year-old skull and partial jaw identified as Kenyanthropus platyops.

 

distinguish
Verb

to differentiate or recognize as different.

Noun

remnant, impression, or trace of an ancient organism.

foster
Verb

to promote the growth or development of something.

hominid
Noun

biological family of primates, including humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, and their ancestors.

skull
Noun

bones of the head, supporting the face and protecting the brain and upper spinal cord.

specimen
Noun

individual organism that is a typical example of its classification.

unearth
Verb

to dig up.

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