New Leakey Film Brings Early Humans to Life

For decades, the National Geographic Society has supported the Leakey family’s groundbreaking research into early human evolution, from patriarch Louis in 1965, to son Richard, his wife Meave, and their daughter Louise today.

The new film “Bones of Turkana” (named for the region of Kenya where the research has occurred) tells the story of these expeditions and the ancient world they’ve helped to reveal. Richard Leakey himself is the host, accompanied by life-size renderings of the human ancestors from which these bones came.

“Bones of Turkana” premiered at a special National Geographic Live event in Washington D.C. in March, but airs across the United States on PBS Wednesday May 16th, 10pm ET.

National Geographic Education has also assembled a collection of short activities, videos, and related maps and photos to help teachers, parents, or anyone learn about human evolution and explore one of the few places on the planet that holds records of the whole 4.5-million-year story.

This story is one that combines history, biology, geology, hard data, and imaginative thinking. Dig into it, and take a mental trip back to our ancestors’ time, where different kinds of early humans shared the world with each other, where “missing links” were lying everywhere, and the seemingly stark line between humans and other animals opens like the Great Rift to reveal a valley full of amazing creatures.

Learn More

Meave and Louise Leakey Profile

Video: Meave Describes Discovering Human Fossils

NG Education Activities, Videos, More

Turkana Basin Institute

Below, in another clip from “Bones of Turkana,” discover evidence that even 1.5 million years ago, humans showed compassion to each other:

Human Journey

Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.