Please, take a listen: audio clip


Today it's really difficult for us to evaluate whether a particular fossil species is the ancestor of another one. You're always looking for the right anatomical features to link something up. In recent years, Meave Leakey, Richard's wife, has been running the Turkana field site. And today their daughter Louise is key in charge. And in 2001, Meave found a fossil skull on the west side of Lake Turkana. A fossil skull that was the same age as Australopithecus afarensis.

I'm not sure how I should understand that. Sure, to be in charge of something means to be in control of it—such as an enterprise or project. That's simple. But what I'm having real trouble with here is how the adjective key is used in conjunction with the expression in charge. If I said, "Who's key in charge here?", what would that possibly mean?

  • in-charge is an idiom (InE?) meaning someone controlling everything. If I'm a Project In Charge, I manage the entire project. Check the comments here on my question. So here, Louise is the head managing the site.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 9:51
  • 2
    My guess is that the word person might have been omitted. "Their daughter Louise is key person in charge". Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 10:58
  • It sounds like the guy is reading from a script, so it's hard to believe that words were left out. However, I've never encountered "key in charge". One may be described as "key in the X operation" meaning of high importance. One may also be described as being "in charge", meaning the one with deciding authority and responsibility. But together it sounds to my ear a bit like "extra most important", i.e. nonsensical. Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 19:32

1 Answer 1


I think it's a simple error. They may have initially written *

is the key person

*, then changed it to *

in charge

  • and overlooked deleting the word key.

The phrase key in charge sounds odd and like a bit of a duplication.

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