Google Doodle Celebrates Mary Leakey and Her Laetoli Hominid Footprints

The discovery settled the debate over what came first, big brains or bipedal hominids

By Lucian Parfeni on February 6th, 2013 09:52 GMT

Google is celebrating the 100th birthday of famous archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey in the usual way, with a doodle. The doodle shows her next to one of her greatest discoveries, a set of hominid footprints some 3.6 million years old.

The footprints, discovered in 1978, are the oldest to show bipedal hominids and proved that there were bipedal species that far back.

The discovery helped settle a heated debate over whether early humans first developed a big brain and then started walking upright, or the other way around.

The footprints, though millions of years old, are almost identical to the footprints of modern humans, and indicated that these early hominids walked very much like modern humans well ahead of any big-brained hominid to develop.

Though the footprints are one of Leakey's biggest discoveries, it's hardly the only one. She found the first Proconsul skull, an early now extinct ape, and also the important Zinjanthropus skull, known as the Nutcracker Man.
The Mary Leakey doodle
   The Mary Leakey doodle
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