|A Turkana sunrise|
This week I decided to post an extra blog to accommodate the two additional interviews that I've managed to conduct.
A Bug Lovers Life: The Story of Dino Martins.
|Dino explaining the importance of conservation at a local school|
|Yes, we do have pigeons here|
So why is Dino interested in Northern Kenya? Well, it turns out that this area contains a very large bee diversity, and a surprising amount of undescribed bee species. Plus, he gets to teach kids like us! But teaching isn't the only thing Dino does. He's currently involved with a lot of communities to help on conservation projects and aid in sustainable development. Additionally, he has research projects on ants and termites, and he's finishing a guidebook on the dragonflies and damselflies of Northern Kenya. He's also a very talented painter, and adorns his guidebooks with original renderings of the animals under discussion.
|Dino holding a praying mantis|
|The Go-Away bird, aptly named for it's annoying call|
Discovering Yourself at Koobi Fora
|Meave on her way to the lab|
|A rainbow caused by all of the rain that we've been having|
Meave started out determined to go into marine biology. The oceans were quite poorly understood (as they are now) and she wanted to discover something new. She attended the University of North Wales in Bangor, and graduated with a joint degree in zoology and oceanography at a time when dual degrees were discouraged. But upon graduation, Meave had a difficult time finding a job because there were no facilities for women aboard research vessels. Following advice from a friend, she found an advertisement on the front page of the London Times for a position in a primate research facility in Kenya. She called the telephone number, and none other than Louis Leakey picked up.
|A bit of blue sky peeking through the clouds|
|A baby baboon|
The interview was conducted in London at the Goodall house, and mainly by Jane's mother. After the interview, Louis offered her a job on the spot and she soon found herself on the way to Kenya. Louis met her at the airport and showed her around for the weekend, taking her to the Nairobi Park, the Kenya National Museum and finally by light aircraft to Olduvai Gorge. He then left her to initiate her own research project on modern monkey bones. Meave remembers Louis telling her that he could stick the end of a monkey bone in his mouth and tell her, not just which bone it was, but what species it belonged to! She spent two years working at the primate research center and was able also to collect data for her PhD and then she returned to Bangor to write up her dissertation.
Shortly after getting her degree, Louis contacted her to ask her if she would return to the facility in1969 for a short while. While she was there, she met Richard and subsequently accepted his invitation to join his expedition to Koobi Fora, on the east side of Lake Turkana. When she arrived at the camp, the other members of the expedition were engrossed in joining dozens of aerial photographs. Because there weren't any good maps of the region, Richard had organized a plane to enable him to take aerial photographs of the entire north east side of the lake. This was essential in order to keep track of where fossils were found. Later they traveled north on camels in search of new fossil sites. On the second day, Meave and Richard began searching for fossils and before long found a nearly perfectly preserved hominin skull lying on the sand of a dry river bed. After collecting this amazing fossil, they put the skull into a biscuit tin, strapped it to a camel, and returned to Koobi Fora. It was a robust australopithecine, Paranthropus boisei, and the first taste of success for Meave in the field of paleontology.
|Some casts of the paranthropus skulls found|
In 2007, Meave, Richard, and their daughter Louise began the construction of the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), as a home base for research in the area and to help train the new generation of paleontologists, anthropologists, ecologists, archaeologists, geologists, etc. who will undoubtedly reshape our understanding of human evolution.
There you have it! I will post the entry about our experiences on Sunday as per usual.
|A Turkana sunset|