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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

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Animated life: Mary Leakey

8 minutes

How footprints trapped in time unlocked a mystery of early hominids

The British-born scientist Mary Leakey (1913-1996) was one the foremost paleoanthropologists of the 20th century. Alongside her husband Louis Leakey (1903-1972), she was responsible for several important breakthroughs in East African prehistory. Arguably her most important discovery occurred after her husband’s death when, during an excavation in Tanzania in 1976, she and her team found a set of 3.6-million-year-old early hominid footprints that had been improbably preserved by a combination of volcanic ash and rain. These footprints revealed, for the first time, the way in which our earliest bipedal ancestors walked upright.

This video from Sweet Fern Productions recounts how Leakey’s passion for paleoanthropology led to the discovery of what are now known as the Laetoli footprints, which continue to shape our understanding of our early ancestors – and by extension, ourselves.

Director: Flora Lichtman, Sharon Shattuck

Website: BioInteractive

Video/Biology

Discover the astounding, pulsing life of a seemingly immobile coral reef

4 minutes

ORIGINAL
Video/History of Ideas

Can the problem of induction save Anthony’s dismal dating life?

6 minutes

Video/History

An African-American revolutionary and fugitive reflects on decades of exile in Cuba

13 minutes

Essay/Rituals & Celebrations

Mrs Myself

Self-marriage promises love and fulfilment – but is it a radical act or a depressing concession to self-absorption?

Polina Aronson

Video/Demography & Migration

On the US-Mexico border, loved ones on both sides can see each other but cannot touch

12 minutes

Idea/Race

How ‘white people’ were invented by a playwright in 1613

Ed Simon

Essay/History

Les Anglo-Saxons

Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy

Emile Chabal

Video/Law & Justice

What is Mother’s Day to a child whose mother is in prison?

8 minutes

Idea/Cities

This striking feature of Manila makes it an emblematic global city

Nancy Kwak