As a teenager, Mary enjoyed learning about archaeology, the study of history through objects found in the earth. Mary went on excavations to find such objects. Mary drew some pictures of stone tools found at an excavation so well that she was asked to illustrate an archaeology book. Dr. Louis Leakey, a famous archaeologist, saw this book and asked Mary to illustrate his book, as well. They later married. Mary and Dr. Leakey searched for fossils in Africa, and Mary discovered bones that belonged to an extinct relative to humans. A few years later, Mary and the expedition that she lead discovered fossilized footprints that proved human ancestors walked on two feet three and a half million years ago.
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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.