Arabic Bulgarian Chinese Croatian Czech Danish Dutch English Estonian Finnish French German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Malagasy Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swedish Thai Turkish Vietnamese
Arabic Bulgarian Chinese Croatian Czech Danish Dutch English Estonian Finnish French German Greek Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Malagasy Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swedish Thai Turkish Vietnamese

definitions - Australopithecus_africanus

Australopithecus africanus (n.)

1.gracile hominid of southern Africa; from about 3 million years ago

   Advertizing ▼

definition (more)

definition of Wikipedia

analogical dictionary

   Advertizing ▼


Australopithecus africanus

Australopithecus africanus
Temporal range: Pliocene
Natural endocranial cast (485 cm3) (Sts 60), articulated with a fragmentary skull still embedded in breccia (TM 1511)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Australopithecus
Species: Au. africanus
Binomial name
Australopithecus africanus
Dart, 1925 [1]

Australopithecus africanus was an early hominid, an australopithecine, who lived between ~3.03 and 2.04 million years ago in the later Pliocene and early Pleistocene.[2] In common with the older Australopithecus afarensis, Au. africanus was of slender build, or gracile, and was thought to have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. Fossil remains indicate that Au. africanus was significantly more like modern humans than Au. afarensis, with a more human-like cranium permitting a larger brain and more humanoid facial features. Au. africanus has been found at only four sites in southern Africa — Taung (1924), Sterkfontein (1935), Makapansgat (1948) and Gladysvale (1992).[1]


  Famous fossils

  Taung Child

  A replica of the Taung Child skull.

Raymond Dart became interested in fossils found at the lime mine at Taung near Kimberley, South Africa in 1924.[3][4] The most promising of these was a skull of an odd ape-creature sharing human traits such as eye orbits, teeth, and, most importantly, the hole at the base of the skull over the spinal column (the foramen magnum) indicating a human-like posture. Dart assigned the specimen the name Australopithecus africanus ("southern ape of Africa").[1]

This was the first time the word Australopithecus was assigned to any hominid. Dart claimed that the skull must have been an intermediate species between ape and humans, but his claim about the Taung Child was rejected by the scientific community at the time due to the belief that a large cranial capacity must precede bipedal locomotion.[1] This was exacerbated by the widespread acceptance of the Piltdown Man. Sir Arthur Keith, a fellow anatomist and anthropologist, suggested that the skull belonged to a young ape, most likely from an infant gorilla. It was not until 20 years later that the public accepted the new genus and that australopithecines were a true member of Homininae.

  Mrs. Ples

  Skull of "Mrs. Ples", Transvaal Museum Pretoria.

Dart's theory was supported by Robert Broom.[5] In 1938 Broom classified an adult endocranial cast having a brain capacity of 485 cc, which had been found by G. W. Barlow, as Plesianthropus transvaalensis. On April 18, 1947, Broom and John T. Robinson discovered a skull belonging to a middle-aged female,[6] (catalogue number STS 5), while blasting at Sterkfontein. Broom classified it also as Plesianthropus transvaalensis, and it was dubbed Mrs. Ples by Broom's young coworkers (though the skull is now thought to have belonged to a young male). The lack of facial projection in comparison to apes was noted by Raymond Dart (including from Taung Child), a trait in common with more advanced hominines. Both fossils were later classified as Australopithecus africanus.

  Morphology and interpretations

Like Au. afarensis, Au. africanus the South African counterpart was generally similar in many traits, a bipedal hominid with arms slightly larger than the legs (a physical trait also found in chimpanzees). Despite its slightly more human-like cranial features, seen for example in the crania Mrs. Ples and STS 71, other more primitive features including ape-like curved fingers for tree climbing are also present.

Due to other more primitive features visible on Au. africanus, some researchers believe the hominin, instead of being a direct ancestor of more modern hominins, evolved into Paranthropus. One robust australopithecine seen as a descendent of Au. africanus is Paranthropus robustus. Both P. robustus and Au. africanus crania seem very alike despite the more heavily built features of P. robustus that are adaptations for heavy chewing like a gorilla. Au. africanus, on the other hand, had a cranium which quite closely resembled that of a chimp, yet both their brains measure about 400 cc to 500 cc and probably had an ape-like intelligence.[5] Au. africanus had a pelvis that was built for slightly better bipedalism than that of Au. afarensis.

  Sexual dimorphism

Recent evidence regarding modern human sexual dimorphism (physical differences between men and women) in the lumbar spine has been seen in pre-modern primates such as Au. africanus. This dimorphism has been seen as an evolutionary adaptation of females to better bear lumbar load during pregnancy, an adaptation that non-bipedal primates would not need to make.[7][8]

A 2011 study using ratios of strontium isotopes in teeth suggested that Au. africanus and Paranthropus robustus groups in southern Africa were patrilocal: women tended to settle farther from their region of birth than men did.[9][10]


Based on current data Au. africanus dates to between 3.03 and 2.04 million years [11] based on a combination of palaeomagnetism (Andy Herries, La Trobe University, Australia, Uranium-lead (Robyn Pickering (U. Melbourne, Australia), electron spin resonance (Darren Curnoe, UNSW, Australia) and faunal dating.[12] The Makapansgat fossils date to between 3.03 and 2.58 million years with fossils MLD37/38 likely dating close to 2.58 million years; Sterkfontein dates to between 2.58 and 2.04 million years with the Sts 5 Mrs Ples fossil dating to around 2.04 million years; and Gladysvale dates to between 2.4 and 2.0 million years. The age of the Taung child remains more difficult to determine and is the focus of a current project by Brian Kuhn (U. Witwatersrand, S. Africa), Phil Hopley (Birkbeck College, UK), Colin Menter (U. Johannesburg, S. Africa) and Andy Herries (La Trobe University, Australia).

  See also


  1. ^ a b c d Australopithecus africanus
  2. ^ Human Ancestors Hall: Tree
  3. ^ Raymond Dart and our African origins
  4. ^ TalkOrigins Archive — Biographies: Raymond Dart
  5. ^ a b Primate Origins
  6. ^ John T. Robinson
  7. ^ The Independent's article A pregnant woman's spine is her flexible friend, by Steve Connor from The Independent (Published: 13 December 2007) quoting Shapiro, Liza, University of Texas at Austin Dept. of Anthropology about her article, Whitcome, et al., Nature advance online publication, (2007) doi:10.1038/nature06342 .
  8. ^ Why Pregnant Women Don't Tip Over. Amitabh Avasthi for National Geographic News, December 12, 2007. This article has good pictures explaining the differences between bipedal and non-bipedal pregnancy loads.
  9. ^ Bowdler, Neil (2 June 2011). "Ancient cave women 'left childhood homes'". BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13609260. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  10. ^ Copeland SR, et al. (2011). "Strontium isotope evidence for landscape use by early hominins". Nature 474 (7349): 76–78. DOI:10.1038/nature10149. PMID 21637256. http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature10149. 
  11. ^ =Herries, A.I.R., Shaw, J. 2011. Palaeomagnetic analysis of the Sterkfontein palaeocave deposits; age implications for the hominin fossils and stone tool industries. J. Human Evolution. 60, 523-539.
  12. ^ =Herries, A.I.R.., Hopley, P., Adams, J., Curnoe, D., Maslin, M. 2010. Geochronology and palaeoenvironments of the South African early hominin bearing sites: a reply to ‘Wrangham et al., 2009: Shallow-Water Habitats as Sources of Fallback Foods for Hominins’ Am. J. Phys. Anthro. 143, 640–646.

  External links



All translations of Australopithecus_africanus

sensagent's content

  • definitions
  • synonyms
  • antonyms
  • encyclopedia

Dictionary and translator for handheld

⇨ New : sensagent is now available on your handheld

   Advertising ▼

sensagent's office

Shortkey or widget. Free.

Windows Shortkey: sensagent. Free.

Vista Widget : sensagent. Free.

Webmaster Solution


A windows (pop-into) of information (full-content of Sensagent) triggered by double-clicking any word on your webpage. Give contextual explanation and translation from your sites !

Try here  or   get the code


With a SensagentBox, visitors to your site can access reliable information on over 5 million pages provided by Sensagent.com. Choose the design that fits your site.

Business solution

Improve your site content

Add new content to your site from Sensagent by XML.

Crawl products or adds

Get XML access to reach the best products.

Index images and define metadata

Get XML access to fix the meaning of your metadata.

Please, email us to describe your idea.


The English word games are:
○   Anagrams
○   Wildcard, crossword
○   Lettris
○   Boggle.


Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.


Boggle gives you 3 minutes to find as many words (3 letters or more) as you can in a grid of 16 letters. You can also try the grid of 16 letters. Letters must be adjacent and longer words score better. See if you can get into the grid Hall of Fame !

English dictionary
Main references

Most English definitions are provided by WordNet .
English thesaurus is mainly derived from The Integral Dictionary (TID).
English Encyclopedia is licensed by Wikipedia (GNU).


The wordgames anagrams, crossword, Lettris and Boggle are provided by Memodata.
The web service Alexandria is granted from Memodata for the Ebay search.
The SensagentBox are offered by sensAgent.


Change the target language to find translations.
Tips: browse the semantic fields (see From ideas to words) in two languages to learn more.

last searches on the dictionary :

2457 online visitors

computed in 0.047s

I would like to report:
section :
a spelling or a grammatical mistake
an offensive content(racist, pornographic, injurious, etc.)
a copyright violation
an error
a missing statement
please precise:



Company informations

My account



   Advertising ▼