Australopithecus africanus

Australopithecus Africanus

Australopithecus africanus

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Description:
Australopithecus africanus was an early hominid, an australopithecine, who lived between 2–3 million years ago in the Pliocene. In common with the older Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus was slenderly built, or gracile, and was thought to have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. Fossil remains indicate that A. africanus was significantly more like modern humans than A. afarensis, with a more human-like cranium permitting a larger brain and more humanoid facial features. A. africanus has been found at only four sites in southern Africa — Taung (1924), Sterkfontein (1935), Makapansgat (1948) and Gladysvale (1992).

Famous fossils

Taung Child



Raymond Dart became interested in fossils found at the lime mine at Taung near Kimberley, South Africa in 1924. The most promising of these was a skull of an odd ape-creature sharing human traits such as eye orbits, teeth, and, most importantly, the hole at the base of the skull over the spinal column (the foramen magnum) indicating a human-like posture. Dart assigned the specimen the name Australopithecus africanus ("southern ape of Africa"). This was the first time the word Australopithecus was assigned to any hominid. Dart claimed that the skull must have been an intermediate species between ape and humans, but his claim about the Taung Child was rejected by the scientific community at the time...
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