SCIENCES

The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past

Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780358206675. $30. NAT HIST
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Paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey (research professor, Stony Brook Univ.) has penned a memoir, cowritten with her daughter Samira, chronicling her life hunting fossils and piecing together the mystery of hominid evolution. Trained as a marine zoologist, Meave was hired by archaeologist Louis Leakey to work at Tigoni Primate Research Centre in Kenya. Invited to Koobi Fora by fellow paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, Maeve soon became interested in fossil hunting; the two married and worked together until Richard was asked to lead Kenya’s wildlife conservation efforts, leaving Meave to coordinate the paleontological fieldwork in the Turkana Basin. While raising a family and dealing with Richard’s health challenges, Meave describes life in camp sifting through mounds of soil in search of small bones, punctuated by important discoveries. She weaves hypotheses about hominid evolution, from bipedality to diet changes, including complementary sciences such as dating fossils, cultural anthropology, geological history, and astronomy, through the story of her life, while also touching on other important fossil finds and how they relate to the Turkana Basin discoveries.
VERDICT An accessible account of a fascinating life intertwined with well-documented scientific facts and hypotheses. For those who enjoy science memoirs and investigative works on evolution.

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