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Related to Australopithecines: Gracile Australopithecines, Robust australopithecines



a group of higher primates whose bones were first excavated in the Kalahari Desert (South Africa) in 1924 and later in East and Central Africa. Primates close to the australopithecines lived in South, Southeast, and Southwest Asia.

The australopithecines lived at the beginning of the Quaternary (2,600,000 years ago) as biped land primates. They resembled man through the weak development of the jawbones, the absence of protuberant fangs, a prehensile hand with a developed thumb, and an ability to stand erect. The brain was relatively large (500–600 cubic meters), but differed little in structure from the brain of the present-day humanoid apes. The australopithecines were omnivorous; they used animal bones, sticks, and stones for defense and for attack, and it is possible that the most developed types could make rudimentary implements from them.

Some scholars include the australopithecines in the hominid family; others consider them a separate family. There were two species among the African australopithecines: Paranthropus and Australopithecus proper. Most scholars do not think that australopithecines were the ancestors of man but view them as a side line in the evolution of higher primates.


Iakimov, V. P. “Avstralopitekovye.” In Iskopaemye gominidy i proiskhozhdenie cheloveka. Moscow, 1966.
Robinson, J. T. “The Origin and Adaptive Radiation of the Australo-Pithecines.” In Evolution and Hominisation. Stuttgart, 1962.


References in periodicals archive ?
19) The earliest forms, like the australopithecines, are known from Africa only and, at present, are assigned to H.
Its long arms and short legs are reminiscent of the australopithecine, which lived 2 million years ago, but its skull and teeth were much more modern, something like those of Homo erectus, a close human ancestor.
It's the first time we have a virtually complete skeleton of an australopithecine, or ape-man.
This makes it difficult for the biology teacher to illustrate exactly how australopithecines are intermediate between apes and humans.
5 million years ago and anatomical features in Australopithecines indicating continued adaptation to tree living lend some support to such a notion (Reed 1997; Rogers et al.
The genus is thought to have branched off from the australopithecines some time between 2 million and 3 million years ago, but paleontologists have had a difficult time finding well-dated Homo fossils more than 2 million years old.
habilis and Homo rudolfensis--possessed large teeth typical of australopithecines and apelike feet.
One cannot, however, exclude the possibility that australopithecines may have had some form of communication, including the use of sounds.
Others, such as the australopithecines, were more ape than Man.
One study of a group of Australopithecines from the South African Pleistocence showed a nearly 12-year decrease in mean life expectancy associated with early enamel defects.
Orrorin in fact shared a distinctive hip arrangement with australopithecines, as well as with a related line of fossil species (Paranthropus) that eventually died out, say Brian G.
I have chosen to structure my discussion, perhaps unsurprisingly, around three central issues in the field; the geographical pattern of human evolution, the establishment of chronometric dating methods and the quantification of human evolutionary time, and the development of evolutionary phylogenies for the australopithecines and Homo.