Today’s Google Doodle honors the 100th birthday of Mary Leakey, a British archaeologist who was a forerunner in identifying the evolution of man through her anthropological and archaeological endeavors.

Mary’s foray into archaeology took off when she worked as a book illustrator for archaeologist Louis Leakey. Eventually Mary and Louis were married, and they became an adept and innovative team, working primarily in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Mary Leakey’s discoveries included the first fossilized Pronscul (a genus of primates) skull, as well as many ancient tools.

The Doodle features Leakey with spade in hand at an archaelogical site. She is uncovering a series of footprints––Leakey discovered the Laetoli Footprints, which served as evidence that hominids walked upright––while a pair of Dalmatians, who were were always by her side, frolic in the background.

Leakey died in 1996 at the age of 83. She had three sons, and one of them, Richard, became a renowned paleoanthropologist. Leakey’s granddaughter, Louise, is also a well-respected paleontolgist.

The Leakey Foundation awards more than $600,000 in grants each year for research directed at human evolution. It remains the “only U.S. funding organization wholly committed to human origins research," and those who receive grants "study many facets of our early ancestors through a variety of scientific disciplines: paleoanthropology, primatology, geology, genetics and morphology,” according to the foundation’s website. Interested applicants can find more information here.—Hal Sundt

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