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About the Royal Society

Tribute to Richard Leakey FRS

03 January 2022

Responding to the death of Dr Richard Leakey FRS, President of the Royal Society, Sir Adrian Smith, said: 

"I am deeply sorry to hear of the death of Richard Leakey, a Fellow of the Royal Society whose expeditions and research helped to shape palaeoanthropology and our understanding of human evolution. His development and exploration of sites around Lake Turkana produced a number of important stone age discoveries, most significantly 'Turkana boy' – one of the most complete skeletons of Homo erectus youth ever uncovered. 

"As head of the National Museum of Kenya he helped educate generations on his country's rich fossil, cultural and natural history. In the fight against poaching, he brought all his experience and authority to the leadership of the Kenya Wildlife Service and anticorruption and conservation measures to protect Africa's elephant and rhino populations. Personal challenges, including the loss of his legs in an air crash in 1993, did not diminish his political work, or research – which most recently focused on the effects that climate change is having on wildlife. 

"On behalf of the Fellowship of the Royal Society, I offer my condolences to his family and friends."

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