EV 1495 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1495

Enigmatic Variations 1495

The African One by Skylark

Setters Blog

Extra letters give THREE SCIENTISTS AND A HOMINID’S REMAINS; extra words give NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER; corrected misprints give KENYA, linking the four names highlighted after changing key entries.


Years ago, I was fascinated by Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, which describes the evolution of life and evidence for it. The moving story of the discovery of Lucy, the Australopithecus Afarensis, and Turkana Boy in Kenya stayed with me. So when the EV editor suggested we pick a continent each, I asked for Africa. I wanted to honour Wangari Maathai, the remarkable environmental and political activist and the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, so was delighted to see that she was a Kenyan scientist, as were Kamoya Kimeu and Richard Leakey, who discovered Turkana Boy.

Because I construct puzzles in Excel, rather than using a crossword compiler programme, the maximum 45 words and minimum 5.5 average length would have been much harder to achieve without Chambers.com giving me UJAMAA, a Tanzanian form of village community. Noticing that each name contained letters from Kenya I sought to disguise the famous hominid and the scientists through “misprints” which had to be corrected using letters from KENYA. The letters on the right in the clashing cells in the grid above are the final letters; those on the left the initial “misprints”.

Two of my fellow female compilers, Chalicea and Vismut, provided very helpful feedback on my clues before the final edit. As always, the editor further improved the puzzle, and suggested I insert some extra words to give more of a clue to Wangari Maathai, since she’s more known as a political and environmental activist than for her science. After reworking a few clues, solvers were alerted to find a Nobel Peace Prize Winner, in addition to searching for three scientists and a hominid’s remains.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.


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