68 episodes

This award-winning show combines science and narrative to explore our human story and explain why we are the way we are. Listen and explore human evolution one story at a time.

Origin Stories The Leakey Foundation

    • Science
    • 4.8 • 353 Ratings

This award-winning show combines science and narrative to explore our human story and explain why we are the way we are. Listen and explore human evolution one story at a time.

    Episode 62: Top Human Origins Discoveries of 2022

    Episode 62: Top Human Origins Discoveries of 2022

    2022 was another exciting year in human origins research! New fossil discoveries and ancient DNA research expanded our understanding of the past. We learned something surprising about the evolution of human speech, and new methodologies and showed promising potential to improve the future of medicine. In this episode, four Leakey Foundation scientists shared their favorite human evolution discoveries from the past year.
    Our guests
    Carol Ward, University of Missouri Sofia Samper Carro, Australian National University Kevin Hatala, Chatham University Megan Henriquez, City University of New York Links to learn more
    Evolutionary loss of complexity in human vocal anatomy as an adaptation for speech When less is more in the evolution of language The face of the first European found in Atapuerca Europe's oldest fossil named after Pink Floyd Meet the first Neanderthal family Genetic insights into the social organization of Neanderthals Population genetics study of Strongyloides fuelleborni  The Leakey Foundation
    Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing human origins research and outreach.

    Want to support the show? Your donation will be matched by Leakey Foundation President Jeanne Newman who is matching up to $5,000 in gifts from Origin Stories listeners. Every dollar helps! leakeyfoundation.org/originstories23
    Sponsors and credits
    This episode was generously sponsored by Diana McSherry and Pat Poe. Origin Stories is also sponsored by Jeanne Newman, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Camilla and George Smith, and the Joan and Arnold Travis Education Fund. Thanks as well to the Benevity Community Impact Fund for their support of the show.
    Origin Stories is produced by Ray Pang. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. Theme music by Henry Nagle. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lee Roservere.
    Join us for these events
    February 8, 6 pm Pacific -  Where is the love?: Secrets of Chimpanzee Relationships - click to register
    February 16, 11 am Pacific - Lunch Break Science with Tom Plummer - click to watch

    • 35 min
    Origin Stories is back!

    Origin Stories is back!

    We've been hard at work on a new season of stories about how we became human. Origin Stories returns on January 31 with monthly episodes!

    • 1 min
    First Steps at Laetoli

    First Steps at Laetoli

    In this episode, we explore five strange fossilized footprints found by Mary Leakey at the site of Laetoli in Tanzania. Decades after their original discovery, these footprints have revealed a new story about our ancient ancestors that expands our understanding of how hominins moved and interacted. 
    Thanks
    Thanks to Dr. Ellison McNutt and Dr. Charles Musiba for sharing their work. 
    Thanks as well to Jim Carty and Pat Randall for generously sponsoring this episode. Jim is a long-time Leakey Foundation supporter who actually volunteered to work at Laeotli in the 1980s to help figure out a way to preserve the Laetoli footprints.
     

    Learn more
    Footprint evidence of early hominin locomotor diversity at Laetoli, Tanzania
     
    Charming video of Dr. McNutt coaxing a baby bear to walk upright
     
    Dr. Charles Musiba's website
    Dr. Ellison McNutt's website
    The Kilham Bear Center
     
    Conservation of the Laetoli Footprints - a talk by Dr. Charles Musiba
     
    The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Unesco World Heritage Site
     
    Survey and Discovering Us giveaway

    Click here to take our short audience survey, and you could win one of three free copies of Discovering Us: 50 Great Discoveries in Human Origins by Evan Hadingham.
    Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and educational outreach.

    Support this show and the science we talk about. Your donations will be matched by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
    leakeyfoundation.org/donate 
    Lunch Break Science is The Leakey Foundation's web series featuring short talks and interviews with Leakey Foundation grantees. Episodes stream on the first and third Thursdays of every month.
    leakeyfoundation.org/live
    This episode was produced and sound designed by Ray Pang. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. Theme music by Henry Nagle. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lee Roservere.

    • 27 min
    Discovering Us

    Discovering Us

    In this episode, we talk with Evan Hadingham, senior science editor for the PBS program NOVA. His new book, Discovering Us: 50 Great Discoveries in Human Origins, highlights the thrilling fossil finds, groundbreaking primate behavior observations, and important scientific work of Leakey Foundation researchers. Want to win your own copy of the book? Take our listener survey for a chance to win one of three giveaway copies! Discovering Us is also available for sale anywhere you buy books, but when you buy it through bookshop.org, 10% of the proceeds go to support our work. Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach.

    Support this show and the science we talk about. Your donations will be matched by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.
    leakeyfoundation.org/donate 
    Lunch Break Science is The Leakey Foundation's web series featuring short talks and interviews with Leakey Foundation grantees. Episodes stream on the first and third Thursday of every month.
    leakeyfoundation.org/live
    This episode was produced by Ray Pang. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. Theme music by Henry Nagle. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Lee Roservere.

    • 23 min
    Top Human Origins Discoveries of 2021

    Top Human Origins Discoveries of 2021

    2021 was a big year in science! Fossil discoveries introduced new relatives to our family tree, new findings added fascinating twists to the human story, and breakthroughs in research methods opened new worlds to explore. In this episode, five scientists discuss their favorite human origins discoveries of 2021.
    Click here for a transcript of this episode.
    Our guests:
    Scott A. Williams, New York University
    Jessica Thompson, Yale University
    Giulia Gallo, University of California at Davis
    Fernando Villanea, University of Colorado at Boulder
    Erin Kane, Boston University
    Read more about their top discoveries:
    Dragon Man
    Late Middle Pleistocene Harbin cranium represents a new Homo species 
    Stunning ‘Dragon Man' skull may be an elusive Denisovan—or a new species of human
    'Dragon man' claimed as new species of ancient human but doubts remain 

    SedaDNA
    Unearthing Neanderthal population history using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from cave sediments
    Bacho Kiro
    Initial Upper Palaeolithic humans in Europe had recent Neanderthal ancestry
    Early Homo sapiens groups in Europe faced subarctic climates
    Like Neanderthals, Early Humans Endured a Frigid Europe
    White Sands footprints
    Evidence of humans in North America during the Last Glacial Maximum
    Ancient Footprints Push Back Date of Human Arrival in the Americas
    National Park Services White Sands Website
    Camera trap research on Dryas monkeys
    A natural history of Chlorocebus dryas from camera traps in Lomami National Park and its buffer zone, Democratic Republic of the Congo, with notes on the species status of Cercopithecus salongo 
    Using local knowledge and camera traps to investigate occurrence and habitat preference of an Endangered primate: the endemic dryas monkey in the Democratic Republic of the Congo-
    Picture Perfect: Camera Traps Find Endangered Dryas Monkeys 
    The Leakey Foundation
    Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach.
    This month, thanks to Jorge and Ann Leis and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, all donations will be quadruple-matched. Click here to make a donation!
    Credits
    This episode was hosted and produced by Meredith Johnson and Ray Pang. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. 
    Music by Henry Nagle and Lee Roservere. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.
    Please send us your questions!
    Have a question about human evolution? Something you've always wondered about? We will find a scientist to answer it on a special episode of Origin Stories!
    There are three ways to submit your question:
    Leave a voicemail at +1(707)788-8582
    Visit speakpipe.com/originstories and leave a message
    Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to us at originstories@leakeyfoundation.org
    Lunch Break Science
    Lunch Break Science is The Leakey Foundation's web series featuring short talks and interviews with Leakey Foundation grantees. Episodes stream live on the first and third Thursdays of every month. Sign up for event reminders and watch past episodes at leakeyfoundation.org/live

    • 31 min
    Biruté Mary Galdikas - 50 Years with Orangutans

    Biruté Mary Galdikas - 50 Years with Orangutans

    As a young girl, Biruté Mary Galdikas dreamed of going to the forests of Southeast Asia to study the least-known of all the great apes, the elusive orangutan. People told her it would be impossible. But, in 1971, she traveled to Borneo and started what is now the longest ongoing study of orangutans in the history of science. This is her story.
    She was the third in the group of now world-famous scientists known as the Trimates—Jane Goodall in Tanzania, Dian Fossey in Rwanda, and Biruté Mary Galdikas in Borneo. The Trimates were the first women to establish long-term studies of great apes in the wild. They were all mentored by Louis Leakey.
    Their work formed the basis of everything science now knows about chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. And they've inspired generations of researchers and conservationists to follow in their footsteps.
    Today's episode celebrates Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas and her half-century of field research and orangutan conservation work.
    About our guest
    Dr. Galdikas is the founder and president of Orangutan Foundation International. She's a research professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and Professor Extraordinaire at the Universitas Nasional in Jakarta. She's a 19-time Leakey Foundation grantee, and she was one of Louis Leakey's last proteges in his lifetime.
    Links
    Orangutan Foundation International Ways to get involved Learn about palm oil Credits
    Ray Pang produced this episode. Sound design by Ray Pang. Our editor is Audrey Quinn. Meredith Johnson is the host and executive producer of Origin Stories. Thanks to Talain Blanchon for audio of Dr. Galdikas in the field and for recording our interview with Dr. Galdikas in his studio. And special thanks to Marcus Foley and Emily Patton for all their help.
    Archival lecture audio is from The Leakey Foundation archive.
    Music by Henry Nagle and Lee Roservere.
    Please send us your questions!
    Have a question about human evolution? Something you've always wondered about? We will find a scientist to answer it on a special episode of Origin Stories!
    There are three ways to submit your question:
    Leave a voicemail at +1(707)788-8582
    Visit speakpipe.com/originstories and leave a message
    Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to us at originstories@leakeyfoundation.org
    The Leakey Foundation
    Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach.
    Thanks to Jeanne Newman and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, all donations to support the podcast will be quadruple-matched. Visit leakeyfoundation.org/donate and use the notes field to let us know your donation is for Origin Stories.
    Lunch Break Science
    Lunch Break Science is The Leakey Foundation's web series featuring short talks and interviews with Leakey Foundation grantees. Episodes stream live on the first and third Thursdays of every month. Sign up for event reminders and watch past episodes at leakeyfoundation.org/live

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
353 Ratings

353 Ratings

ginnibug70 ,

I’m in love!

Insanely Awesome!!!! Can’t express how great this podcast is. Phenomenal

djsnndk ,

Beautiful podcast

Fascinating topics. I can even get my 5 year old to pay attention and wonder with me about our ancestors from days gone by

Amy555 ,

Best human origins podcast

Origin Stories is full of fascinating, thought-provoking episodes about what it means to be human. No other podcast compares when it comes to exploring humanity’s ancient past. This has quickly become one of my favorite science podcasts!

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