Oldoway Man


    IN the correspondence columns of the present issue (p. 721) Dr. L. S. B. Leakey replies to the criticisms of the conclusions at which he himself and his colleagues have arrived as to the antiquity of the remains of Homo sapiens from the Oldoway beds in East Africa. In effect, he agrees with Messrs. Forster Cooper and Watson that it is unlikely that the Oldoway skeleton would have been found in a state of complete articulation and in its contracted position had it been deposited by natural means in the situation in which it was found. It will be remembered that others have felt this a difficulty, notably a writer in L'Anthropologie, to whose comment we have already directed attention on a previous occasion (see NATURE, April 23, p. 607). Dr. Leakey, however, now states that he personally is of the belief that the position of the skeleton is due to burial, but a burial contemporary with and not subsequent to the deposition of Bed No. 2, in which it was found, Bed No. 3 being laid down after the burial had taken place. The complete absence of any trace of intermixture of the yellow deposits of Bed No. 2 and of the red deposits of Bed No. 3, of which Dr. Leakey has assured himself by a personal inspection of the actual skeleton, is conclusive. In the event of an ancient burial, such an admixture would be practically inevitable; while of the two alternatives, an ancient and a modern burial, the geological evidence, as interpreted, appears to point beyond question to the former. Strong corroboration is afforded by the fresh evidence now adduced from the fossil beds of the Kavirondo Gulf, where the old Lake beds have yielded Dr. Leakey a fauna and a culture sequence similar to Oldoway, but a fragment of human mandible from Kanam carries back Homo sapiens to Pre-Chellean, a stage further removed than Oldoway man.

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    Oldoway Man. Nature 129, 715 (1932). https://doi.org/10.1038/129715a0

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