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 (ôs′trə-lō-pĭth′ĭ-kəs, ô-strā′lō-)
A genus of extinct hominins known from Pliocene and early Pleistocene fossil remains found in Africa, characterized by relatively small brain size and evidence of bipedalism. Several species are known, including A. afarensis, dating from four to three million years ago, of which Lucy is the best-known specimen.

[New Latin Austrālopithēcus, genus name : Latin austrālis, southern (because fossil remains of the genus were first found in South Africa); see austral + Greek pithēkos, ape (of unknown origin).]


(ɔˌstreɪ loʊˈpɪθ ɪ kəs, -pəˈθi kəs, ˌɔ strə-)

a genus of small-brained, large-toothed bipedal hominids that lived in Africa between one and four million years ago.
[< New Latin (1905) =austral(is) austral1 + -o- -o- + pithēcus < Greek píthēkos ape]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Australopithecus - extinct genus of African hominidAustralopithecus - extinct genus of African hominid  
mammal genus - a genus of mammals
family Hominidae, Hominidae - modern man and extinct immediate ancestors of man
australopithecine - any of several extinct humanlike bipedal primates with relatively small brains of the genus Australopithecus; from 1 to 4 million years ago
Australopithecus afarensis - fossils found in Ethiopia; from 3.5 to 4 million years ago
Lucy - incomplete skeleton of female found in eastern Ethiopia in 1974
Australopithecus africanus - gracile hominid of southern Africa; from about 3 million years ago
Australopithecus boisei - large-toothed hominid of eastern Africa; from 1 to 2 million years ago
Australopithecus robustus - large-toothed hominid of southern Africa; from 1.5 to 2 million years ago; formerly Paranthropus
References in periodicals archive ?
18) For details on "Human evolution," "Evidence: fossils, dating and climate change," "The earliest hominins," "The Australopithecines and early evolution of Homo (man)," "Technology and the 'Stone Ages' of Africa," "Climate change and the evolution of modern humans," "Homo sapiens populate the world," the emergence of "Homo Sapiens, the hunter-gatherer," "Hunting," "Fishing," "Gathering," "Social organisation," and "Further climate change, adaptation and the ancestry of African languages," see Kevin Shillington, "Chapter 1: Early prehistory of Africa," in Shillington, History of Africa, 9-21.
3 million years ago, even before "Lucy," that most famous of all australopithecines.
Australopithecus boisei sported a gorilla like bony crest and was the most robustus among all the Australopithecines, which thrived for almost a million years only to come to an evolutionary dead end.
The third stage, rock flaking, was possibly an advance of the Australopithecines.
With statistics in hand, cranial capacity ranges from 282 to 454 cm3 in adult chimpanzees, from 350 to 752 cm3 in adult gorillas (Schultz, 1960, 1965), from 400 to 550 cm3 in adult australopithecines, from 510 to 1300 cm3 in adults of earliest Homo, and from 1100 to 2000 cm3 in adults of modern Homo.
67 million years ago, "it's interesting but hardly shocking that australopithecines might be that old in South Africa," comments paleoanthropologist William Jungers of Stony Brook University in New York.
Paleontology has recorded hominid fossil with unequivocal marks of blows [that] confirm the occurrence of physical aggression episodes since the time of australopithecines, over a million years ago, until the modern age, worldwide (17).
For much of the twentieth century, the family Hominidae included only humans and australopithecines, while the other apes were sequestered in the now-obsolete family Pongidae.
While the hominids from the genus Homo that evolved from australopithecines like the 3 million-year-old fossil Lucy-considered by many the matriarch of modern humans-were broadening their food choices, a short, upright hominid known as Paranthropus boisei that lived side by side with them in eastern Africa was diverging toward a more specific, C4 diet.
This looks very much like the same kind of foot, but it's a million years younger, so that lineage of hominins didn't go extinct when the australopithecines evolved -- they continued to be there,'' he said.
Historically the human lineage, evidently only at some point in the past in the Australopithecines, assumed obligatory upright posture.
Although now recognized as belonging to a crucial family of early humans, the australopithecines, it contradicted many accepted tenets of human evolution.