Mary Leakey, “the scientist of the pair.”

A tough minded woman, who love whiskey, cigars and her dogs.  She was the scientist of the two.

While she was working  I never heard that so much of our knowledge of early humanoids is due to a woman’s work.  Accomplished working women in my childhood were stewardesses.  (The RC childhood of a Navy Junior.)

Do see the short video linked here.

From the NY Times:

Forty years ago in Laetoli, Tanzania, an elephant dung fight between a couple of paleoanthropologists led to a discovery: a fossilized animal print, at least 3.6 million years old. But the site had an even bigger surprise in store. After years of excavation, the team discovered the unmistakable footprints of early hominids — possible human ancestors.

The crew was part of an archaeological dig led by Mary Leakey, the pioneering subject of this Op-Doc video who died 19 years ago, on Dec. 9, 1996. Her colleagues, several of whom help narrate, uniformly remember her as an extraordinary character. Leakey was exacting in her science, and expected the same of her workers. (Her artifact tagging and recording systems are now considered standard practice within archaeology and paleoanthropology.) After her husband, the pioneering paleontologist Louis Leakey, died in 1972, she commanded teams of mostly men when it was still exceedingly rare for a woman to lead an archaeological dig, especially in Africa.

Leakey was passionate about animals, both wild and domesticated. (This 1966 National Geographic video about the Leakey camp shows roaming monkeys pulling the tails of Leakey’s many Dalmatians.) Little rodent-like hyraxes reportedly lived in the rafters and ate at the dinner table. We tried to recreate the lively atmosphere in our sets for this film (and we did not skimp on the Dalmatian puppets, as you’ll see).

Prostate cancer treatment and Alzheimer’s

Once again the treatment for a cancer can have cruel results. This will not be good news for a lot of people.
From the NY Times:

Hormone therapy, a common treatment for prostate cancer, is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found.

The goal of hormone therapy, also known as androgen deprivation therapy, is to lower the level of male sex hormones, or androgens, that stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Researchers used records of 16,888 people with prostate cancer, of whom 2,397 were treated with hormone therapy. Over a median follow-up of 2.7 years, there were 125 new diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease.

Over all, those treated with hormone therapy had an 88 percent increased risk of Alzheimer’s compared with other patients. The longer the hormone treatment, the more the risk increased, and patients with at least 12 months of treatment had more than double the risk. The study is in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The finding persisted after adjusting for race, smoking, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, prior cancers and other factors.

“It would not be appropriate to change the way we treat patients now,” said the lead author, Dr. Kevin T. Nead, a resident in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Androgen treatment is life-extending treatment, and very important. We found an association, but there is no evidence that hormone therapy causes Alzheimer’s.”

Androgens have been shown to affect the accumulation of amyloid plaques, one of the features of Alzheimer’s disease, and this may be one mechanism that could explain the finding.