Richard Erskine Leakey
Born: December 19, 1944
Died: Still at large

Richard Leakey found his first fossil at age six. It was the intact jaw of an extinct giant pig. Despite his famous parents, Louis and Mary Leakey, and his knack for fossil finding he didn't want to go into paleoanthropology. He chose instead to open a safari company and he learned to fly. It wasn't until 1968 that he came into his own fame, and was no longer in his parent's shadows.

The National Geographic Society gave him a grant that would allow him to explore the eastern shore of Kenya's Lake Turkana. It was there that he discovered the first hominid fossil, a weathered jaw bone from Australopithecus boisei. For the next twenty years he continued finding fossils. Among them were:

In 1989 Leakey put away his fossil finding tools in exchange for conserving the wildlife in Kenya. He battled elephant and rhino poaching while working for the Kenya Wildlife Service. At one point he became "Secretary General of the Kenyan opposition party Safina" and was elected a seat in Kenyan parliament.

In 1993 Leakey lost both of his legs below the knee when an aircraft he was piloting malfunctioned and crashed. It's important to note that the loss of his legs has not deterred Leakey from pursuing his crusades and as of 1999 he was the Director of Wildlife Service in Kenya, despite the initial animosity that existed between him and President Moi, who once called Leakey "the anti-christ."*

Knowledge gained in Anthropology classes in college.
Talk Origins,

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