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Into the Past

Author: Phillip Tobias

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Phillip Vallentine Tobias (1925-2012) was one of South Africa’s most honoured and decorated scientists. Best known for his pioneering work at South Africa’s famous hominid fossil sites, in the course of his career he developed the reputation of being one of the world’s leading authorities on the evolution of humankind. He was also justly proud of his ‘10 000 children’, the medical and dental students he taught at the University of the Witwatersrand between 1945 and 1993.

In this memorial edition, material from an unfinished second part of his autobiography describes his collaboration with Louis and Mary Leakey on the fossil remains they found in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The challenges Tobias and the Leakeys collectively posed to the international scientific community, and the far-reaching consequences their analysis of the finds would have on our understanding of Africa as the birth-place of modern humans, are recounted in Tobias’ inimitable style, and they make for riveting reading.