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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).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
But when she worked in Anthropology, I was a Cal student myself, showing up at her office strategically so she would take me to lunch, learning along with her about California Indians, Inuit art, and Australopithecines. Dad's Anne-mediated connections with Robert Heizer and Theodora Kroeber led to the Sierra Club's Almost Ancestors, a lament for California's lost native peoples and their special knowledge of place.
And for over a million years, our ancestors lived alongside a rather enigmatic group, the robust australopithecines. Their origins remain uncertain even 70 years after their discovery.
The Dikika baby lived about 3.3 million years ago, even before "Lucy," that most famous of all australopithecines. When the Dikika baby and her family looked to the night sky and the constellation Cepheus, which would come to bear the name of the king who would one day rule their land (at least in tales), what is now Trumpler 37 was a vast nebula that probably rivaled Orion.
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. It adds the controlled repetition of a two-handed strike of a rock balanced on a larger stone.
Even if Little Foot lived 3.67 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.
Besides the minimally essential foodstuff available to sustain the australopithecines, small amounts of additional energy were likely used both to gather food and to prepare it for consumption.
According to the original reports, the hominins on Flores were 1 m tall and had an endocranial volume of approximately 380 [cm.sup.3], equivalent to the smallest-known australopithecines. The most complete specimen named LB1 was identified as a female due to its pelvic anatomy, and as an adult because of the teeth eruption and wear and epiphyseal unions.
"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.
LI.: After the Australopithecines. Stratigraphy, Ecology, and Cuhure change in the Middle Pleistocene.