Olduvai Gorge

The History of the Olduvai Gorge

The almost complete, but fragmented skull was thought to be from an early hominid. It was hoped that it would back up earlier fossil discoveries made by the Leakeys in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania in the ’60s which suggested that the direct human ancestral line went back further than the 11/2 million years that most people thought at the time. The pieces of the skull were painstakingly fitted together — a demanding task in itself which kept two people fully occupied for over six weeks. The completed jigsaw confirmed what they had suspected: Olduvai Gorge was an evolutionary sophisticated hominid, named Homo habilis, which was a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens. It was 1.8k million years old.

The Olduvai Gorge made world headlines in 1959 following the discovery by the Leakeys of fossil fragments of the skull of one of the ancestors of Homo sapiens. The fragments were dated back to 1.8 million years. The Leakeys were convinced by this and other finds that the fragments represented a third species of early humans, which they dubbed Homo Habilis. They proposed that the other two, known as Australopithecus Africans and Australopithecus robust, had died out and that Homo Habilis had given rise to modern humankind, The debate raged for two decades until 1979 when Mary Leakey made another important discovery in the shape of footprints Laetoli which she claimed were of a man, woman and child. They were dated back 3.5 million years, and since they were made by creatures which walked upright, this pushed the dawn of the humankind race much further back than had previously been supposed.



The gorge itself isn’t of a great interest unless you are archaeologically inclined. However, it has acquired a kind of cult attraction among those who just want to visit the site where the evolution of early humans presumably took place. There is also a great museum on the site which is only a 10 to 15- minutes drive from the main road between Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti.


Olduvai Gorge is a must visit in Tanzania for those who are interested in understanding the early origins of humankind. The site has a fantastic new museum with incredible panoramas representing the species that made the gorge their home. Very Interesting stories about the early discovery done by Dr Leakey and his wife. If you are looking for the amazing Historical Site to learn about how the humankind grew from Australopithecus to a human being today, Olduvai is the place. Feature this place in your bucket list Now from one of our unique tours or  Contact us for details.

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