Waking up to a Google Doodle is always a fun and enlightening experience for most people. Today Google celebrated British archaeologist Mary Leakey’s hundredth birthday with an illustrated doodle.
The doodle shows Mary Leakey, born Mary Nicol, hard at work investigating footprints. She is shown surrounded by nature and a couple of Dalmatian dogs, who usually accompanied her to excavation sites. Leakey was an archaeologist and anthropologist who was born in 1913 and died in December 1996.
She is perhaps best known for her discovery of the first fossilised Proconsul skull, the skull of an extinct ape believed to be an ancestor of modern day humans. She also discovered the Zinjanthropus skull at Olduvai Gorge. Most of her work took place in Olduvai Gorge itself in Tanzania. She also found a system that helped classify stone tools found there as well as discovered Laetoli footprints.
Leakey was an unusual scholar who disliked formal education. On her journey to become an archaeologist and anthropologist, she did not pass any exams while she studied for her degree. Leaky tried to take lessons in art and archaeology as an unregistered student at University College London.
Leakey married fellow anthropologist Louis Leakey as they both set out on a journey to find out the origins of man. The fossils they found together seemed to indicate that man’s evolution began in East Africa two million years ago, earlier than it was believed to be at the time.
The doodle is a fairly simple image-based one, unlike Google’s previous interactive doodle that commemorated the 200th anniversary of Grimm Brothers’ Die Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales), which depicted the story of the Little Red Riding Hood.
That doodle – the story of the Little Red Riding Hood – was spread across numerous slides that users could view by hitting the play sign on the either sides of the screen or by just pressing the arrow keys.
The story of the Little Red Riding Hood begins with the little girl setting out on a journey to meet her sick grandmother. A chance meeting with a wolf on her way forms the crux of the story. The innocent girl, without suspecting anything foul, told the wolf about her grandmother.
Seizing the opportunity, the wolf ran ahead and ate her grandmother, waited for Little Red Riding Hood to arrive and then ate her too. Fortunately for her, a woodcutter came and killed the wolf, saving both of them.
The story beautifully unfolds in pictures as the reader hit the arrow keys or clicked on the Play button until the final slide, which showed a visibly pleased grandmother knitting her yarn. The yarn artistically formed the words 'Google'. Clicking on the final slide took users to a page detailing the lives and times of the Grimm Brothers – Jacob and Wilhelm.
Another interactive doodle that Google made was to celebrate Halloween. Google went old-school with its themed doodle. The Google Search homepage displayed an interactive doodle – a haunted house for its virtual visitors.