Raymond Arthur Dart

(1893—1988) Australian-born South African anthropologist and anatomist

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(1893–1988) [Bi]

South African anthropologist best known for his discovery in 1924 of the first Australopithecine fossil. Born in Brisbane, he trained as a doctor at Sydney University Medical School before serving in WW1 with the Australian army medical corps. After the war he went to London to pursue his research in brain anatomy at University College. At the age of 30 he was appointed Professor of Anatomy at the fledgling Medical School in the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, a post in which he remained until his retirement. In 1924 he was shown a fossil skull from Taungs near Kimberley and realized that it was an extremely early hominin of a type previously unrecognized. He named it Australopithecus, much to the dismay of those in the academic world, who realized that the word was a cocktail of Greek and Latin. Although the place of Australopithecus in hominin evolution at the time of its discovery was hotly contested, Dart lived to see his views confirmed by finds at Olduvai and elsewhere. In 1966 he was made United Steelworkers of America Professor of Anthropology at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential in Philadelphia, USA.


Antiquaries Journal, 69 (1989), 404–5

Subjects: Archaeology.

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