Proconsul hesloni
Age approx. 17.00 Million Years Digital Capture: Photogrammetry

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This beautiful and complete monkey-sized skull was found in 1948, by Mary Leakey, near Kaswanga on Rusinga Island in Lake Victoria. Mary had wandered off to find fossils leaving Louis excavating the skull of an early crocodile, when she spotted a shiny tooth eroding out of the slope. The excavation uncovered a partial skull with its upper and lower jaws. Mary reconstructed the skull back in camp from the thirty or so pieces of this specimen. At 17 million years old, this was clearly important and at the time was the only specimen known of a fossil ape. It was decided to send the specimen to the British Museum of Natural History in London to be studied by Le Gros Clark. Here it was accessioned and considered part of the British Museum collections. The correspondence indicating the specimen was on loan was misplaced for some thirty or so years and it was not until Richard Leakey took over the museum directorship, that the letter confirming the loan was recovered and the specimen returned to Kenya. An interesting part of the Proconsul story is that more than 20 years after the original discovery, paleontologist Martin Pickford discovered, amongst some specimens recovered from the same site in 1947, but labelled “turtle skutes”, some pieces of skull that he recognized as hominoid skull fragments. These proved to be missing pieces of this Proconsul skull.


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