The man behind the Leakeys
World famous paleontologist and fossil collector, Kenya’s Kamoya Kimeu began his career doing field labor for Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s. In 1963 he began doing paleontological work with their son Richard and his wife Meave, another husband-wife paleontological team. In 1967, he joined Richard Leakey’s expedition to Omo River and Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf). He soon became Richard’s right-hand man, assuming control of field operations in his absence. Over the years Kimeu distinguished himself, making very significant paleoanthropological finds. At Koobi Fora, in 1973, he found a Homo habilis skull known as KNM ER 1813. Its characteristics include a generally smaller size than other Homo habilis fossils, but with a fully adult and typical Homo habilis morphology. It was estimated to be 1.9 million years old. In 1977, he became the curator for the National Museums of Kenya (for all prehistoric sites). While again a member of the Leakey team, Kimeu in 1984 discovered at Nariokotome, near Lake Turkana, an almost complete skeleton of a hominid (who died in the early Pleistocene period). KNM-WT 15000, called Nariokotome boy or more popularly Turkana boy, has been classified by some as Homo erectus and by others as Homo ergaster. It is the most complete early human skeleton ever found, dated at 1.5 million years old. Dr Kimeu has been recognized for both his discoveries and continued dedication to his field. In his honor two fossil primates are named after him: Kamoyapithecus hamiltoni and Cercopithecoides kimeui. He continues to live and work in Kenya. For this we say thanks.