GlamTribale and Anne of Carversville readers know that I have a strong interest in paleontologists, archaeologists and anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey and their work in and around the Omo Valley region of Ethiopia and Lake Turkana, bordering Ethiopia and Kenya.
Read our in-depth stories about the Omo Valley Mursi and Surma tribes at GlamTribale.
It’s only recently that I came to know about the Omo Valley region and Lake Turkana as the ‘origin’ of human civilization as we know it. Previously, I knew Africa as the origin of humanity, without understanding that the Leakey discoveries lay very close to many other events and subjects of interest in my life.
Long-time GlamTribale and Anne muse Dan Eldon, the young photo journalist stoned to death in Mogadishu, Somalia 20 years ago was good friends with Lara Leakey, granddaughter of the famous scientists Louis and Mary.
Dan’s mom Kathy Eldon is now a digital friend and potential artistic collaborator of mine. Kathy worked for the Leakeys when she lived in Nairobi.
AnneofCarversville.com is devoted to telling women’s stories “from fashion to flogging” with a strong emphasis on women’s rights at home in America and internationally.
Digging much deeper into the history and contributions of Mary and Louis Leakey to our understandings of human history and social behavior, one quickly comes upon the subject of women in science and gender studies — and Louis Leakey’s support of women in primate research.
One can’t study Louis Leakey for more than an hour without learning about his unusual support for three women – Leakey’s Angels, as they are called: chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall; Dian Fossey who studies mountain gorillas; and Birutė Galdikas, an observer of orangutans.
Why, I wondered, would Louis Leakey stake so much of his professional reputation on supporting women as researchers of primate behavior? Why did his Trimates, as they are also called, captivate an international audience of animal behavioral enthusiasts?
Firstly, Louis Leakey was crippled with arthritis, for which he had a hip replacement at age 65. If he wanted to understand primate behavior, others would have to do the research.