Age: 3.2 million years old This relatively complete female skeleton is the most famous individual from this species, nicknamed ‘Lucy’ after the song ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ sung by The Beatles. They were similar to modern humans in that they were bipedal (that is, they walked on two legs), but, like apes, they had small brains. The species was first described in 1995 after an analysis of isolated teeth, upper and lower jaws, fragments of a cranium, and a tibia unearthed at the discovery sites. Australopithecus: small brain, long arms Homo: broad pelvis, non curved phalanges It is based on ‘australo’, a Latin word meaning ‘southern’ and ‘pithecus’, a Greek word meaning ‘ape’. The foramen magnum (large hole) at the base of the skull is located under the braincase, as in a biped, and not posteriorly, as in a quadrupedal (four-legged) ape (see skull). https://www.thoughtco.com/australopithecus-1093049 (accessed January 27, 2021). -Australopithecus garhi was found here. What the name means. (The most famous specimen of A. afarensis is the famous "Lucy.") Australopithecus, means ‘southern ape’. Definition of Australopithecus : a genus of extinct early hominids of southern and eastern Africa comprising the australopithecines when considered to include both the gracile and robust forms The advanced prehuman Australopithecus first appears in the middle Pliocene, 3.5 million years ago … 'Lucy' is a collection of fossilised bones that once made up the skeleton of a hominid from the Australopithecus afarensis species. Australopithecus garhi is one of the last Australopiths, appearing just before the emergence of Homo habilis. Australopithecus, (Latin: “southern ape”) (genus Australopithecus), group of extinct primates closely related to, if not actually ancestors of, modern human beings and known from a series of fossils found at numerous sites in eastern, north-central, and southern Africa. Director of the Institute of Human Origins and Professor of Paleoanthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Australopithecina or Hominina is a subtribe in the tribe Hominini. A. africanus appeared on the scene a few hundred thousand years later; it was similar in most ways to its immediate ancestor, although slightly bigger and better adapted to a plains lifestyle. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. -Australopithecus platyops is one of the most poorly represented hominins. This close temporal association has led some to suggest that it is the ancestor of our genus, although the lack of distinct Homo -like traits make this far from certain. Strauss, Bob. Their brains were smaller and more in the range of the brains of modern apes. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Australopithecus, Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves - Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site - Australopithecus. Corrections? The extremely large hands of the species suggest a lifestyle that included significant climbing and other activities among the trees. anamensis , appeared in Kenya … It is based on ‘australo’, a Latin word meaning ‘southern’ and ‘pithecus’, a Greek word meaning ‘ape’. The members of the subtribe are generally Australopithecus (cladistically including the genera Homo, Paranthropus, and Kenyanthropus), and it typically includes the earlier Ardipithecus, Orrorin, Sahelanthropus, and Graecopithecus. The teeth have thick enamel, like the teeth of all later hominins but unlike those of Ar. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Ardipithecus-Lived in 5.8 - 4.4 Mya(the end of the Miocene & beginning of the Pliocene epoch)-Probably ancestral to Australopithecus Afarensis-Brain volume was about the size of a modern chimpanzee-Tim White of Berkeley, the anatomist says:"Ramidus is the first species this side of our common ancestor with chimpanzees." anamensis, which was discovered in northern Kenya near Lake Turkana at Kanapoi and Allia Bay. The genus name, meaning “southern ape,” refers to the first fossils found, which were discovered in South Africa. In Australopithecus: Early species and Australopithecus anamensis Identifying the earliest member of the human tribe (Hominini) is difficult because the predecessors of modern humans become increasingly apelike as the fossil record is followed back through time. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Australopithecus. ThoughtCo. It is very long, which allowed its fingertips to extend at least to the knee. ramidus (5.8–4.4 mya)—that is, pre-Australopithecus species that are considered to be ancient humans—and one additional species of early human, Kenyanthropus platyops (3.5 mya). O. tugenensis is primitive in most if not all of its anatomy, except for femurs (thighbones) that appear to share traits of bipedalism with modern humans. Australopithecus afarensis from Laetoli and Hadar . ‘Lucy’ Australopithecus afarensis skull Discovered: 1974 by Donald Johanson in Hadar, Ethiopia. The first undisputed evidence of the genus Homo—the genus that includes modern human beings—appears as early as 2.8 mya, and some of the characteristics of Homo resemble those of earlier species of Australopithecus; however, considerable debate surrounds the identity of the earliest species of Homo. Ar. It was first discovered in 1924 in Taung, South Africa. The split from other apes would have taken place earlier, perhaps about 5 mya. The upper limb differs from that of modern humans. According to its discoverers, features of the thighbone implying bipedalism include its overall proportions, the internal structure of the femoral neck (the column joining the ball-shaped head of the femur to the shaft of the bone), and a groove on the bone for a muscle used in upright walking (the obturator externus). Please select which sections you would like to print: While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Whether the species walked upright is not known because only a single cranium, fragments from one or more mandibles (lower jaws), and some teeth have been found. Not predator, but prey. Bob Strauss is a science writer and the author of several books, including "The Big Book of What, How and Why" and "A Field Guide to the Dinosaurs of North America.". Updates? They resemble what would be expected in the common ancestor of humans and apes in that they possess a mix of human and ape traits. A very early hominin species has been ruled out as a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens.. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. They resemble what would be expected in the common ancestor of humans and apes… The foot is notably apelike with elongated toes and a fully divergent great toe for moving about in trees. Australopithecus, means ‘southern ape’. The fossils date to 4.2–3.9 mya, and, like Ardipithecus, Au. While the canine tooth is apelike in some respects, it does not exhibit the classic interlocking honing complex (where the inner side of the upper canine sharpens itself against the lower premolar [or bicuspid]). Its name, Australopithecus, means southern ape. The split from other apes would have taken place earlier, perhaps about 5 mya. Strauss, Bob. A badly crushed and distorted cranium found at Lomekwi on the western shore of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya in 1998 was assigned to a new genus and species, “human from Kenya,” Kenyanthropus platyops (3.5 mya). Australopithecines include the genus Paranthropus (2.3–1.2 mya), which comprises three species of australopiths—collectively called the “robusts” because of their very large cheek teeth set in massive jaws. Replica of a 3.2- to 3.5-million-year-old. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/australopithecus-1093049. However, it's important not to overstate the extent to which Australopithecus was similar to modern humans. Furthermore, the teeth of some species were more like human teeth. Strauss, Bob. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Australopithecus is “Lucy,” a remarkably preserved fossilized skeleton from Ethiopia that has been dated to 3.2 mya. The name was originally created just for this species found in South Africa but several closely related species now share the same genus name. For years, paleontologists assumed that Australopithecus subsisted mostly on nuts, fruits, and hard-to-digest tubers, as evidenced by the shape of their teeth (and the wear on tooth' enamel). Australopithecus Match the following species to the best description: Chimp sized with upper arm bones that suggest tree-climbing abilities and thigh bones suggesting bipedalism. The most famous Australopithecus is the 3.5 foot tall skeleton named “Lucy,” discovered in 1974 by paleontologist Donald C. Johanson in Hadar, Ethiopia. The specimen is usually classified as Australopithecus afarensis and suggests—by having long arms, short legs, an apelike chest and jaw, and a small brain but a relatively humanlike pelvis—that bipedal locomotion preceded the development of a larger (more humanlike) brain in hominin evolution. In contrast, remains older than six million years are widely regarded to be those of fossil apes. The first Australopithecus described was the Taung Child, discovered by Raymond Dart, and described in 1925.. Their remains are mostly found in East Africa, and the first fossil is from 3.9 million years ago (mya). It was then described and named by Raymond Dart in 1925. You can opt-out at any time. (2020, August 27). Match the species to the best description: Lived from about 4 to 1 million years ago. The ape-like Australopithecus sediba was first discovered near … Identifying the earliest member of the human tribe (Hominini) is difficult because the predecessors of modern humans become increasingly apelike as the fossil record is followed back through time. They tended to have longer arms that seemed well-suited to climbing. Australopithecus synonyms, Australopithecus pronunciation, Australopithecus translation, English dictionary definition of Australopithecus. In general, their facial features looked more ape-like than human, with sloping faces and jutting jaws. Its species were fully bipedal primates with ape-sized brains. ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/australopithecus-1093049. STS 5, a nearly complete adult Australopithecus africanus, was an important fossil find because skeptics had previously argued that the Taung Child was actually a baby chimpanzee that would have gained its ape-like features when it got older. For example, the purported earliest species, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, is humanlike in having a slightly reduced canine tooth and a face that does not project forward very far. ramidus, which have apelike thin enamel. Approximate time ranges of sites yielding australopith fossils. The genera Homo (which includes modern humans), Paranthropus, and Kenyanthropus evolved from Australopithecus. They are our distant ‘cousins’ rather than our direct relatives. They are collectively known as the ‘robusts’ because of their extremely large jaws and molar teeth. The case for its hominin status rests on the humanlike features of the femur. The general term australopith (or australopithecine) is used informally to refer to members of the genus Australopithecus. However, their skeletons show that they walked upright. -had enormous chewing muscles indicated by the large attachment areas and a sagittal crest The fact is that the brains of A. afarensis and A. africanus were only about a third the size of those of Homo sapiens, and there's no convincing evidence, aside from the circumstantial details cited above, that these hominids were capable of using tools (though some paleontologists have made this claim for A. africanus). The first Australopithecus described was the Taung Child, discovered by Raymond Dart, and described in 1925.. Their remains are mostly found in East Africa, and the first fossil is from 3.9 million years ago (mya). In 2001 these fossils were described as the earliest known hominin. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Bipedalism, however, appears to have been established in the six-million-year-old Orrorin tugenensis, a pre-Australopithecus found in the Tugen Hills near Lake Baringo in central Kenya. Lived: 3.7 million to three million years ago Where: East Africa Appearance: a projecting face, an upright stance and a mixture of ape-like and human-like body features Brain size: about 385-550cm 3 Height: about 1-1.7m (females were much shorter than males) Weight: about 25-64kg (females were significantly smaller than males) Australopithecus afarensisis one of the longest-lived and best-known early human species—paleoanthropologists have uncovered remains from more than 300 individuals! In fact, Australopithecus seems to have occupied a place fairly far down on the Pliocene food chain, with numerous individuals succumbing to predation by the meat-eating megafauna mammals of their African habitat. Lucy stood about 3 feet 7 inches (109 cm) tall and weighed about 60 pounds (27 kg). Although there's always the possibility that a stunning new fossil discovery will upset the hominid apple cart, for now, paleontologists agree that the prehistoric primate Australopithecus was immediately ancestral to genus Homo, which today is represented by only a single species, Homo sapiens. The toe bone assigned to Ardipithecus exhibits bipedal anatomy, but it was found in sediments 400,000 years younger than, and some 20 km (12.4 miles) away from, the fossil used to define Ar. Australopithecus is a genus of extinct hominids closely related to humans.. Except for A. anamensis, A. afarensis is the most primitive member of its genus. afarensis, a species represented by more than 400 fossil specimens from virtually every region of the hominin skeleton. kadabba (5.8–5.2 mya), which were discovered in the middle Awash River valley in the Afar region of Ethiopia (a depression located in the northern part of the country that extends northeast to the Red Sea), comprise fragments of limb bones, isolated teeth, a partial mandible, and a toe bone. -Bouri is located in the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. Australopithecine definition is - any of various extinct hominids (genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus) that existed two to four million years ago in southern and eastern Africa and include gracile and robust forms exhibiting bipedal locomotion, near-human dentition, and relatively small brains. The earliest species of this genus, Au. The best-known member of Australopithecus is Au. She is an Australopithecus afarensis and lived in Eastern Africa between 3.85 and 2.95 million years ago.. Then in 2000 the skeletal remains of a 3-year-old young female of the same species was found in Dikika, not far from Lucy’s site. kadabba and may belong to another species of early hominin. Non-australopithecine members of the human lineage (hominins) include Sahelanthropus tchadensis (7–6 mya), Orrorin tugenensis (6 mya), Ardipithecus kadabba (5.8–5.2 mya), and Ar. The material from Laetoli and Hadar (fragmentary remains of 60-100 individuals) constitutes the largest and best-studied assemblage of early hominids. Of extinct hominids closely related to humans Dart in 1925 walked upright this species found in Africa... `` Lucy. '' if you have any questions emergence of Homo habilis were preserved in volcanic ash and likely... Includes modern humans their brains were smaller and more in the Middle Awash, Ethiopia toe for about. 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