Who is Dian Fossey?

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I decided to read “Who Is Jane Goodall?”, by Roberta Edwards from the New York Times Best-Selling Who Was Series. Only two chapters in and I heard the name Dian Fossey for the very first time and decided to look her up. Ultimately, I was impressed with her accomplishments and dedication that I decided to feature her in my International Women’s Day blog post.

Dian Fossey was a foremost primatologist and conservationist in the world and a friend to Jane Goodall. Dian had an affinity for animals at a young age and after being a part of the workforce and becoming restless, invested all of their savings to travel to Africa. Africa was where she hoped to get closer to animals to observe, research and protect them. She was also the author of a book called “Gorillas in the Mist”, which is an account of her life over 13 years studying gorillas, the gentle giants. You probably have heard of the movie with Sigourney Weaver back in the 80’s, but it was an adaptation from this book.

Primatology is the study of primates. This field has bits and pieces of many fields such as zoology, biology and most often anthropology. Though anthropology is the study of humans, humans are primates and therefore primatologist research often works to answer frequent big questions anthropologists focus on, the origin of humans and how it relates to non-human primates.

Dian Fossey is a pioneer alongside Jane Goodall in primatology, animal conservation and in the field of science as a whole. Her findings have been used to propel continuous research of non-human primates, and her foundation was expanded to help gorillas in Rwanda and neighboring areas. Without the courage of women like her, women today like myself would not be empowered enough to pursue careers in biological anthropology and make scientific contributions.

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