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australopithecus


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A genus of fossil primates that lived 4–2 million years ago, coexisting for some of this time with early forms of humans (see Homo). They walked erect and had teeth resembling those of modern humans, but the brain capacity was less than one-third that of a modern human. Various finds have been made, chiefly in East and South Africa (hence the name, which means ‘southern ape’). The earliest belong to the species A. afarensis, which includes the specimen of a female, dubbed ‘Lucy’, found at Laetoli in Tanzania. Australopithecus and related genera are known as australopithecines.

Subjects: Biological Sciences.


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