I got emailed this wonderful little tale the other day and thought I’d share it with all of you so we can all enjoy it together!
First, my name is Wilson Crook, although I go by “Dub”, which is short for my initials (“WW”). I am an archeologist with a passion for paleoanthropology instilled by my late Father. I have published 195 peer-reviewed papers and four books to date.
My first story is the interesting connection between the Leakey and the Crook families. My Father was the discoverer and excavator of the Lewisville site near Dallas. At the time of its discovery, its anomalous radiocarbon dates made it one of the oldest sites in North America. As such, Louis Leakey became interested and he and Dad struck up a correspondence which culminated in Louis visited our home when I was a small boy. I remember him coming into the house and being introduced to him and then Dad took him to the Lewisville site to show him the geology of the occurrence.
Later, I struck up a letter exchange with Richard Leakey in the 1970s regarding his discovery of the famous 1470 skull and we had a spirited debate on the age of Indonesian Homo erectusfossils. I knew basic Indonesian geology based on the presence of my company in that country and Richard was adamant that they could not be any older than 1.0 Mya whereas I argued for 1.7-1.8 Mya. Later discoveries and newer dating have proved me correct but I never told Richard that.
As a Leakey Foundation Fellow, I was invited to attend the 2009 presentation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York between Don Johanson and Richard Leakey. By sheer luck, I got to spend the evening sitting next to Richard’s daughter, Louise, and we became good friends which we have maintained ever since. On a visit to the Leakey Foundation’s headquarters several years ago, Sharal Camisa the Executive Director, knowing the story said I must pose with their prize artifact, Louis Leakey’s old field coveralls which he always wore. I attach a photo of me holding same.
My second story is while visiting my best friend, Bennie Lategan in South Africa, he took me to see a number of his properties in the Eastern Cape Province. On one known as Dalmanutha, I walked across a small pan which was littered with lithic artifacts. Immediately I noticed blades and blade cores as well as Levallois flakes and crude projectile points. Our visit stopped as I spent the rest of the week working on the site. The artifacts are an absolute look-alike to the Kathu Pan Fauresmith Industry as described by Jayne Wilkins at Cape Town. I have since excavated that site as well as two others on his Father’s properties as well as a pure Acheulean age site complete with classic tear-drop shaped hand axes. The Dalmanutha Fauresmith Industry sites have some of the world’s oldest projectile points which have been dated to be roughly 500-600 years old. Sites of this culture have come from the northern part of South Africa as well as the southwestern part but nothing in between. Thus these sites in the Eastern Cape Province help to “fill in the gap”. The moral of the story is to always walk with your eyes on the ground because you never know what you may find!