Richard Leakey, fully Richard Erskine Frere Leakey

Richard
Leakey, fully Richard Erskine Frere Leakey
1944

Kenyan Politician, Paleoanthropologist and Conservationalist

Author Quotes

We are concerned that, in a few years? time, this place of discovery, with its wealth of human fossils, the like of which can be found nowhere else in the world, could be completely destroyed.

We may be on the cusp of some very real disasters that have nothing to do with whether the elephant survives, or a cheetah survives, but if we survive.

We think that groups of between 30 and 40 early men would have settled in an area measuring a hundred square kilometers.

Whether or not all this came to pass in an East African ditch, I wouldn't like to say. Perhaps it happened in North Africa or further west, but Africa was definitely the place.

We are bipedal apes, and it should not be surprising to see that fact reflected in the way our ancestors lived.

Ritual disposal of the dead speaks clearly of an awareness of death, and thus an awareness of self.

Spoken language clearly differentiates Homo sapiens from all other creatures. None but humankind produces a complex spoken language, a medium for communication and a medium for introspective reflection.

The language of art is powerful to those who understand it, and puzzling to those who do not. What we do know is that here was the modern human mind at work, spinning symbolism and abstraction in a way that only Homo sapiens is capable of doing.

The world's five thousand extant languages are products of our shared ability, but the five thousand cultures they create are separate from each other.

If you don't like the word evolution, I don't care what you call it, but life has changed. You can lay out all the fossils that have been collected and establish lineages that even a fool could work up. So the question is why, how does this happen? It's not covered by Genesis. There's no explanation for this change going back 500 million years in any book I've read from the lips of any God.

If you get to the stage where you can persuade people on the evidence, that it's solid, that we are all African, that color is superficial, that stages of development of culture are all interactive, then I think we have a chance of a world that will respond better to global challenges.

If you look back, the thing that strikes you, if you've got any sensitivity, is that extinction is the most common phenomena. Extinction is always driven by environmental change. Environmental change is always driven by climate change. Man accelerated, if not created, planet change phenomena; I think we have to recognize that the future is by no means a very rosy one.

It has taken biologists some 230 years to identify and describe three quarters of a million insects; if there are indeed at least thirty million, as Erwin (Terry Erwin, the Smithsonian Institute) estimates, then, working as they have in the past, insect taxonomists have ten thousand years of employment ahead of them. Ghilean Prance, director of the Botanical Gardens in Kew, estimates that a complete list of plants in the Americas would occupy taxonomists for four centuries, again working at historical rates.

It is virtually impossible to control Northern Kenya, which is populated chiefly by migrant nomads.

It seems inconceivable that a species of human could possess fully modern language and not be fully modern in all other ways, too. For this reason, the evolution of language is widely judged to be the culminating event in the emergence of humanity as we know it today.

It was much easier to work with a new university that didn't have a 200-year-old image where it was so set in its ways like some of the Ivy League schools that you couldn't really change what they did and what they thought.

Natural selection operates according to immediate circumstances and not toward a long-term goal. Homo sapiens did eventually evolve as a descendant of the first humans, but there was nothing inevitable about it.

Primates need good nutrition, to begin with. Not only fruits and plants, but insects as well.

I can't think of any other region in the world which is such a vast source of fossils.

I simply would not accede to being forced into this, and would frequently be kept out of classes because of irreverent comments and mocking this religious stuff. Frankly, it stayed with me to this day. In fact, don't get me going. I'm almost as bad as Richard Dawkins on this issue.

Earlier, 100,000 elephants lived in Kenya and we didn't have any noteworthy problem with it. The problem that we have is not that there are now more elephants.

Elephants can live to an age of up to 70 or 80 years and they have a good memory. It could be they come across an area that is experiencing a drought. Then they continue on their path and run into people.

Humans become human through intense learning not just of survival skills but of customs and social mores, kinship and social laws ? that is, culture.

Along the borders to Ethiopia and Somalia, anarchy reigns, the police and military have retreated quite some distance.

As every parent knows, children go through an adolescent growth spurt, during which they put on inches at an alarming rate. Humans are unique in this respect: most mammalian species, including apes, progress almost directly from infancy to adulthood.

Author Picture
First Name
Richard
Last Name
Leakey, fully Richard Erskine Frere Leakey
Birth Date
1944
Bio

Kenyan Politician, Paleoanthropologist and Conservationalist