A study of the 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. 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. 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.

A study of the australopithecus

By Melissa Hogenboom 27 November Forty years ago, on a Sunday morning in late Novembera team of scientists were digging in an isolated spot in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Surveying the area, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson spotted a small part of an elbow bone.

He immediately recognised it as coming from a human ancestor. And there was plenty more. It was immediately obvious that the skeleton was a momentous find, because the sediments at the site were known to be 3.

It was the most ancient early human — or hominin — ever found. Later it became apparent that it was also the most complete: Might Lucy be our direct ancestor, a missing gap in the human family tree? By this time Johanson thought the skeleton was female, because it was small. So someone said to him: She belonged to a new species called Australopithecus afarensisand it was clear that she was one of the most important fossils ever discovered.

But at the campsite the morning after the discovery, the discussion was dominated by questions. How old was Lucy when she died?

A study of the australopithecus

Did she have children? What was she like? And might she be our direct ancestor, a missing gap in the human family tree?

Forty years later, we are starting to have answers to some of these questions. View image of The Taung Child Credit: That was the Taung Child, the fossilised skull of a young child who lived about 2.

The Taung Child was discovered in and was studied by anatomist Raymond Dart. He realised that it belonged to a new species, which he called Australopithecus africanus. The Taung Child was denounced as just an ape and of no major importance Dart wrote: Dart also concluded that it could walk upright, like humans, because the part of the skull where the spinal cord meets the brain was human-like.


The Taung Child was the first hint that humans originated from Africa. But when Dart published his analysis the following year, he came in for stiff criticism. At the time, Europe and Asia was thought to be the crucial hub for human evolution, and scientists did not accept that Africa was an important site.

The Taung Child was denounced by the prominent anatomist Sir Arthur Keith as just an ape and of no major importance. Over the next 25 years, more evidence emerged and showed that Dart had been right all along.

By the time Lucy came along, anthropologists accepted that australopithecines were early humans, not just apes. So upon her discovery, Lucy became the oldest potential ancestor for every known hominin species.

The immediate question was: Lucy had an "incredible amalgam of more primitive and more derived features that had not been seen before," says Johanson. Her skull, jaws and teeth were more ape-like than those of other Australopithecus.

Her braincase was also very small, no bigger than that of a chimp. She had a hefty jaw, a low forehead and long dangly arms. Later studies of A. As an upright walker, Lucy strengthened the idea that walking was one of the key selective pressures driving human evolution forwards.

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The first hominins did not need bigger brains to take defining steps away from apes.Australopithecus: Australopithecus, group of extinct primates closely related to modern humans and known from fossils from eastern, north-central, and southern Africa.

The various species lived million to million years ago, during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs. Australopithecus is a genus of hominins. From paleontological and archaeological evidence, the genus Australopithecus apparently evolved in eastern Africa around 4 million years ago before spreading throughout the continent and eventually becoming extinct two million years ago, noting that Paranthropus and Homo probably emerged among the various Australopithecus.

During that time, a number of . Australopithecus literally means 'southern ape.' It is an extinct genus of members of the human family tree.

Australopithecus afarensis | The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program

It is an extinct genus of members of the human family tree. The fossil specimens of Australopithecus deyiremeda were found in the Woranso-Mille Paleontological Project study area located in the central Afar region about miles ( km) northeast of.

The Australopithecus fossil was given its name with regards to its thinking ability in comparison to the other hominids. The Australopithecus was a genius ape whose thinking ability was closer to the modern man than the ancient apes.

Archaeological and paleontological evidence indicate that. Australopithecus afarensis is one of the longest-lived and best-known early human species—paleoanthropologists have uncovered remains from more than individuals!

Found between and million years ago in Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania), this species survived for more than , years, which is over four times .

Australopithecus afarensis - Wikipedia