Paleoanthropologist, Political Advisor and Environmentalist
Dr. Richard Leakey
About the Speaker
Paleoanthropologist, political advisor, and environmentalist Richard Leakey has been a key voice behind wildlife conservation and preservation for over 40 years. He was named one of TIME’s 100 Greatest Minds of the 20th Century.
Son of the Louis B. and Mary, Leakey and his family have been credited with some of the most significant fossil discoveries in history. The Leakeys have unearthed Proconsul africanus, Australopithicus boisei, Homo habilis, and the footprints of Australopithecus afarensis, known as the skeleton “Lucy.” Leakey’s own team discovered the most intact early human skeleton ever found, nicknamed “Turkana Boy” and referred to as either Homo erectus or Homo ergaster in 1984.
The author of over 100 articles and books, Leakey examined the five great catastrophic extinctions in the history of the planet in his book, The Sixth Extinction. Written in 1995, before recent increased environmental awareness, Leakey stressed how human beings are dangerously reducing biodiversity, damaging eco-systems and possibly precipitating the next major mass extinction, which could affect humans.
Leakey entered the world of politics in 1994, helping to form a political party opposed to the country's corrupt government. He was appointed to then President Moi’s cabinet, as Director of Kenyan Wildlife Services in an attempt to curtail elephant poaching. Leakey also served as Director of the National Museums of Kenya. He left politics in 2001 in order to form his own political party to fight government corruption.
Now a Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS), Leakey has convened the Stony Brook World Environmental Forum and the Human Evolution Symposiums and Workshops. He is Chair of The Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook and Transparency International-Kenya.