National Geographic : 1965 Feb
"My knees get pretty sore, and so do my arms," confesses Dr. Leakey. He spends hours with his eyes close to the earth, laboriously inching over ground as rough as a nutmeg grater. Small rodent and bird bones show what men and manlike creatures ate at Olduvai Gorge more than a million years ago. Mary Leakey's African crew sifts he added, "believing that the storm spirits actually hurled them from the sky. "From my reading, I knew that they had to be prehistoric tools. Yet most prehistorians dismissed East Africa as a potential site of human fossils. Their attention was then fo cused almost exclusively on Asia because of the turn-of-the-century discoveries in Java of Pithecanthropus-anextinct primate with certain human characteristics. "However, even then I believed Darwin's theory: that the mystery of man's past would be unraveled here in Africa. So, long before my parents packed me off to school in Eng land, I had abandoned birds and prepared myself to hunt here on my home grounds, not only for prehistoric man but for the complete picture of his world." 212 I already knew something of Louis's color ful scholastic career. He was 16 when he en tered public school in England; two years later he gained admission to Cambridge Uni versity. There, as a first-year student, he was barred from specialized courses in prehistory. So he proposed to take modern languages, listing as his specialties French and Kikuyu, which he had spoken from infancy. Student Chosen to Examine Himself French presented no problem to the uni versity, but Kikuyu was another matter. The authorities pointed out the requirement that his second choice must also be a current lan guage spoken by a large body of people. Louis replied that half a million East Africans spoke Kikuyu. The university capitulated.