Tobias, Philip Valentine

Tobias, Philip Valentine, 1925–2012, South African paleoanthropologist, b. Durban. He graduated from the Univ. of Witwatersrand (Ph.D., 1953) and taught there for five decades. Tobias entered paleoanthropology in 1959 when Louis and Mary Leakey invited him to study and restore part of a hominin jawbone they had found at Olduvai Gorge. He wrote a classic treatise on this “Dear Boy” jaw, leading to a long association with the Leakeys during which he reconstructed fossil skulls and measured brain size, and identified and described a new human species, Homo habilis. In 1966 he began excavations at South Africa's Sterkfontein caves, where he and his team found and analyzed hundreds of hominin fossils and tools; many contemporaneous animal fossils also were found. Tobias was also an active opponent of apartheid.

See J. Dugard and G. Strkalj, ed., Tobias in Conversation (2009) and his autobiography (2005).

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