Louis Leakey was born in 1903, in Kabete, British East Africa, now Kenya, into a missionary family. After graduating from Cambridge, Leakey set out to prove Darwin's theory that Africa was the cradle of mankind.
From 1926, until 1935, he led numerous expeditions in East Africa in search of man's fossil ancestors.
In 1936, Louis married 23 year old Mary Nicol, and together their expeditions to Olduvai Gorge produced several important discoveries of early primate fossils. The discovery of Zinjanthropus, now called Australopithecus boisei, by Mary Leakey was of crucial importance to the study of human origins. Louis began spending more time on raising funds and less time in the field, and for the next 25 years Mary was the explorer and discoverer of many important finds. In 1978 she found a trail of ancient hominid footprints preserved in volcanic ash from a site in Tanzania called Laetoli. The footprints belonged to a new species; the same as that of the 3.2 million-year-old Lucy skeleton discovered at Hadar, Ethiopia.
During the early '60's, the Leakeys and their son Richard unearthed fossils of Homo habilis, the oldest known primate with human characteristics. They were also involved in finding evidence of human habitation in California that was believed to be 50,000 years old.
Louis Leakey died in London on October 3, 1969.