Attentive readers of Meave Leakey’s masterful memoir, The Sediments of Time: My Lifelong Search for the Past, will research a few details about her private life. She become recruited by the tremendous Louis Leakey for paleontological research in Africa in 1965, after sexism avoided her from working as a marine biologist. After finishing her Ph.D., she returned to Kenya in 1969 for good. She fell in love with Louis’ son, Richard Leakey, despite his obnoxious recognition and the truth that he turned into then in an sad marriage. They had two daughters, who spent “field season” in remote regions of Kenya hunting fossils with their parents and their collaborators. After Richard was named the head of Kenya’s natural world conservation branch to cease a rampage of elephant poaching, Meave became head of the subject studies operation and spent tons of her life aside from him, especially as he became extra worried in politics. Years later, long after Richard had misplaced his legs in a plane crash, she donated a kidney to him. And so on.
But the main and maximum illuminating parts of The Sediments of Time are about the tedious, painstaking years spent attempting to find the fossilized remains of our species’ precursors. Drawing on field notes, interviews and research papers, Meave recounts the paintings that led to some of her and her team’s finest discoveries. She demonstrates the astonishing quantity of information that may be gained, for example, via meticulous examination of something as apparently unimportant as a prehistoric toddler tooth. She writes of the shoestring budgets paleontologists function on, the competition for research offers and the want for sizable discoveries to preserve funding—and of the collaborative nature of the subject’s efforts despite the opposition for money. She also hails the positive impact of new communication and digital technologies within the area.
Best of all, Meave and her co-writer, her youngest daughter Samira Leakey, write in reality and compellingly about what those discoveries mean. In a fascinating chapter stimulated through the birth of her grandchildren, Meave explores the benefits for our species of getting parents who stay long beyond childbearing years. Other chapters situation the development of our maximum distinguishing features: taking walks on two feet, the terrific mobility of our palms and the dimensions of our brains. Some readers may locate this all goes too deep into the sands of time, however many extra will find it a thrilling account.