National Geographic : 1963 Jan
found preserved in stone the whole inner structures and the seeds, just as you find them today when you cut into a fresh apple or pear. How did these incredible fossils occur? And what conditions in the dim Miocene Epoch produced such freaks of nature? We simply do not know, but several scientific laboratories are at work on the mystery. Since that first discovery, similar fossils have been found in the western United States, and it may be that scientists there will be able to unravel the enigma. Meanwhile, Mary and I visit Rusinga and Mfangano every chance we have, for we still hope for other major discoveries there. Early Rusinga Voyage Nearly the Last Today, thanks to the generosity of a London businessman, Charles Boise, we can reach Rusinga or Mfangano Island safely and quickly in our own cabin cruiser, Miocene Lady, which we keep at Kisumu on Lake Vic toria's eastern shore. But a trip to Rusinga was not always so easy, and one of the first voyages I made nearly ended my career. In those days the canoes and dhows of the Lake Victoria tribesmen were the only trans port between the mainland and the island. The graceful, streamlined Lake Victoria ca noes are strangely constructed. Their plank ing is sewed together onto the keel and the basic frame. In the first stage the cut planks are fitted side by side, and matching sets of holes are burned through with red-hot awls. Then long strands of bark are stitched through the two sets of holes, and the planks are drawn flush together. Finally the holes and seams are caulked with fiber from the banana plant and the whole job made reason ably watertight. I say "reasonably" because the seal is never perfect, and the canoe must be bailed from time to time. On the trip I speak of, I hired a substantial-looking canoe with 10 paddlers to take me the 20 miles from Homa Bay on the shore of Lake Victoria to Rusinga Island. At first the weather was fine and we made excellent speed. Then, when we were still six miles from Rusinga and in deep water, a sud den violent squall caught us by surprise. Within seconds we were in trouble. The stitching between the planks began to give, and the water poured in. Soon eight of the 10 paddlers and I were bailing for our lives, while the other two men tried to keep the canoe pointed upwind to prevent capsiz ing. We used cups, saucers, even my cloth hat to bail with-but as the waves hammered the hull, more stitches parted, and soon the water 149 Monkeyshines enliven the camp at Olduvai. Simon, a pet monkey, drapes himself across Mrs. Leakey's shoulders, teases a tolerant Dalma tian, and rides another. The Leakeys keep six other dogs, a baby gnu, a squirrel, horses, cats, four duiker antelopes, and a turkey rescued from a holiday dinner.