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Encyclopedia > Australopithecus africanus
Australopithecus africanus
Fossil range: Pliocene

STS 5 "Mrs. Ples"
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Hominidae
Genus: Australopithecus
Species: A. africanus
Binomial name
Australopithecus africanus
Dart, 1925 [1]

Australopithecus africanus was an early hominid, an australopithecine, who lived between 2-3 million years ago in the Pliocene.[2] In common with the older Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus was slenderly built, or gracile, and was thought to have been a direct ancestor of modern humans. Fossil remains indicate that A. africanus was significantly more like modern humans than A. afarensis, with a more human-like cranium permitting a larger brain and more humanoid facial features. A. africanus has been found at only four sites in southern Africa - Taung (1924), Sterkfontein (1935), Makapansgat (1948) and Gladysvale (1992).[1] The Pliocene epoch (spelled Pleiocene in some older texts) is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... For other uses, see Scientific classification (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Animal (disambiguation). ... Typical Classes Subphylum Urochordata - Tunicates Ascidiacea Thaliacea Larvacea Subphylum Cephalochordata - Lancelets Subphylum Myxini - Hagfishes Subphylum Vertebrata - Vertebrates Petromyzontida - Lampreys Placodermi (extinct) Chondrichthyes - Cartilaginous fishes Acanthodii (extinct) Actinopterygii - Ray-finned fishes Actinistia - Coelacanths Dipnoi - Lungfishes Amphibia - Amphibians Reptilia - Reptiles Aves - Birds Mammalia - Mammals Chordates (phylum Chordata) include the vertebrates, together with... Subclasses & Infraclasses Subclass †Allotheria* Subclass Prototheria Subclass Theria Infraclass †Trituberculata Infraclass Metatheria Infraclass Eutheria Mammals (class Mammalia) are warm-blooded, vertebrate animals characterized by the presence of sweat glands, including milk producing sweat glands, and by the presence of: hair, three middle ear bones used in hearing, and a neocortex... Families 15, See classification A primate is any member of the biological order Primates, the group that contains all the species commonly related to the lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the latter category including humans. ... Genera The hominids are the members of the biological family Hominidae (the great apes), which includes humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. ... For the song by Modest Mouse, see Sad Sappy Sucker. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Raymond Dart, holding the Taung Child skull Raymond Dart (February 4, 1893–22 November 1988) was an Australian anatomist and anthropologist best known for his discovery in 1924 of a fossil of Australopithecus at Taung in Northwestern South Africa. ... Year 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Genera The hominids are the members of the biological family Hominidae (the great apes), which includes humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. ... This term australopithecine refers to two very closely related hominin genera: Australopithecus Paranthropus When used alone, the term refers to both genera together. ... The Pliocene epoch (spelled Pleiocene in some older texts) is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5. ... Binomial name Johanson & White, 1978 Australopithecus afarensis is an extinct hominid which lived between 3. ... Human beings are defined variously in biological, spiritual, and cultural terms, or in combinations thereof. ... For other uses, see Fossil (disambiguation). ... Cranium can mean: The brain and surrounding skull, a part of the body. ... Human brain In animals, the brain (enkephale) (Greek for in the skull), is the control center of the central nervous system, responsible for behavior. ... View of the Gladysvale Cave Fossil Site from the South. ...

Contents

Famous fossils

Taung Child

Main article: Taung Child

Raymond Dart was at Taung near Kimberley, South Africa in 1924 when one of his colleagues spotted a few bone fragments and the cranium on the desk of a lime worker.[3] The skull seemed like 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"). 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. Taung Child refers to the fossil of a skull specimen of Australopithecus africanus. ... Raymond Dart, holding the Taung Child skull Raymond Dart (February 4, 1893–22 November 1988) was an Australian anatomist and anthropologist best known for his discovery in 1924 of a fossil of Australopithecus at Taung in Northwestern South Africa. ... Taung is a small town situated in North West Province of South Africa. ... Kimberley is a town in South Africa, and the capital of the Northern Cape. ... For the rap album, see 1924 (album). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article is about the biological superfamily. ... In anatomy, in the occipital bone, the foramen magnum (Latin: great hole) is one of the several oval or circular apertures in the base of the skull (the foramina), through which the medulla oblongata (an extension of the spinal cord) enters and exits the skull vault. ... Taung Child refers to the fossil of a skull specimen of Australopithecus africanus. ... The portrait painted by John Cooke in 1915. ... Sir Arthur Keith (February 5, 1866—January 7, 1955) was a Scottish anatomist and anthropologist, and was a leading figure in the study of Human fossils. ... Type species Troglodytes gorilla Savage, 1847 distribution of Gorilla Species Gorilla gorilla Gorilla beringei The gorilla, the largest of the living primates, is a ground-dwelling omnivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. ...


Mrs. Ples

Main article: Mrs. Ples

Dart's theory was supported by Robert Broom.[4] 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 17, 1947, Broom and John T. Robinson discovered a skull belonging to a middle-aged female,[5] Sts 5, while blasting at Sterkfontein. Broom classified it also as Plesianthropus transvaalensis, and it was dubbed Mrs. Ples by the press (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 A. africanus. Archaeologists at Sterkfontein cave, where Mrs. ... Image:Broom R.jpg Robert Broom Prof. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... An endocast or endocranial cast is a cast made of the mold formed by the impression the brain makes on the inside of the neurocranium (braincase), providing a replica of the brain with most of the details of its outer surface. ... is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1947 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... John Talbot Robinson (1923 - 2001) was a distinguished hominid paleontologist. ... Archaeologists in a structure above the entrance to Sterkfontein. ...


Morphology and interpretations

Like A. afarensis, A. africanus the South African counterpart was generally similar in many traits, a bipedal hominin 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 craniums Mr. Ples and Sts 71, other more primitive features including ape-like curved fingers for tree climbing are also present. Binomial name Johanson & White, 1978 Australopithecus afarensis is an extinct hominid which lived between 3. ... Look up South Africa on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Government South Africa Government Online official government site Parliament of South Africa official site Statistics South Africa official government site News AllAfrica. ... Genera Gorilla Pan (chimpanzees) Homo (humans) Paranthropus (extinct) Australopithecus (extinct) Sahelanthropus (extinct) Ardipithecus (extinct) Kenyanthropus (extinct) Homininae is a subfamily of Hominidae, including Homo sapiens and some extinct relatives, as well as the gorillas and the chimpanzees. ... Type species Simia troglodytes Blumenbach, 1775 distribution of Species Pan troglodytes Pan paniscus Chimpanzee, often shortened to chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of apes in the genus Pan. ...

Raymond Dart with Taung skullThis image is a candidate for speedy deletion. It may be deleted after seven days from the date of nomination.
Raymond Dart with Taung skull
This image is a candidate for speedy deletion. It may be deleted after seven days from the date of nomination.

Due to other more primitive features visible on A. africanus, some researchers believe the hominin, instead of being a direct ancestor of more modern hominins, evolved into Paranthropus. The one particular robust australopithecine seen as a descendent of A. africanus is Paranthropus robustus. Both P. robustus and A. africanus craniums seem very alike despite the more heavily built features of P. robustus that are adaptations for heavy chewing like a gorilla. A. 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.[4] A. africanus had a pelvis that was built for slightly better bipedalism than that of A. afarensis. Image File history File links Raymond_Dart_with_Taung. ... Image File history File links Raymond_Dart_with_Taung. ... Species †Paranthropus aethiopicus †Paranthropus boisei †Paranthropus robustus The robust australopithecines, members of the extinct hominin genus Paranthropus (Greek para beside, Greek anthropos human), were bipedal hominins that probably descended from the gracile australopithecine hominins (Australopithecus). ... Binomial name Paranthropus robustus Broom, 1938 Paranthropus robustus was originally discovered in Southern Africa in 1938. ... Type species Troglodytes gorilla Savage, 1847 distribution of Gorilla Species Gorilla gorilla Gorilla beringei The gorilla, the largest of the living primates, is a ground-dwelling omnivore that inhabits the forests of Africa. ...


Charles Darwin suggested that humans had originally evolved from Africa, but during the early 20th century most anthropologists and scientists supported the idea that Asia was the best candidate for human origins.[6] However, the famous Leakey family have argued in favor of the African descent since most hominid discoveries such as the Laetoli footprints were uncovered in Eastern Africa.[7] For other people of the same surname, and places and things named after Charles Darwin, see Darwin. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... For other uses, see Asia (disambiguation). ... Leakey may refer to: Members of the Kenyan-British family of prominent anthropologists: Louis Leakey, anthropologist and archaeologist Mary Leakey, anthropologist and archaeologist Richard Leakey, paleontologist, archaeologist and conservationist Rea Leakey, British tank commander, during World War II Leakey, a city in Real County, Texas Nigel Leakey, a Kenyan sergeant... Laetoli is a site in Tanzania, dated to the Plio-Pleistocene and famous for its hominid footprints, preserved in volcanic ash (Site G). ... Categories: Africa geography stubs | Eastern Africa ...


With regards to bipedalism

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 A. 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.[8][9] Female (left) and male Common Pheasant, illustrating the dramatic difference in both color and size, between the sexes Sexual dimorphism is the systematic difference in form between individuals of different sex in the same species. ... A typical lumbar vertebra The lumbar vertebrae are the largest segments of the movable part of the vertebral column, and can be distinguished by the absence of a foramen (hole) in the transverse process, and by the absence of facets on the sides of the body. ... The human gestation period of approximately 40 weeks between the time of the last menstrual cycle and delivery is traditionally divided into three periods of three months, or trimesters. ...


See also

Cranial capacity is a measure of the volume of the interior of the cranium (also called the braincase or brainpan) of those vertebrates who have both a cranium and a brain. ... The following charts give a brief overview of several notable fossil finds relating to human evolution. ... List of fossil sites: // ^ http://www. ... The following charts give a brief overview of several notable fossil finds relating to human evolution. ... For the history of humans on Earth, see History of the world. ...

References

  1. ^ a b c Australopithecus africanus
  2. ^ Human Ancestors Hall: Tree
  3. ^ Raymond Dart and our African origins
  4. ^ a b Primate Origins
  5. ^ John T. Robinson
  6. ^ New Ideas About Human Migration From Asia To Americas
  7. ^ Apologetics Press - Human Evolution and the “Record of the Rocks”
  8. ^ 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, doi:10.1038/nature06342 (2007).
  9. ^ 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.

External links

Commons logo
Wikimedia Commons has image media such as pictures and art related to:
Category:Australopithecus africanus
This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The following charts give a brief overview of several notable primate fossil finds relating to human evolution. ... Human evolutionary genetics studies how one human genome differs from the other, the evolutionary past that gave rise to it, and its current effects. ...

  Results from FactBites:
 
Australopithecines (303 words)
Some believe that some of the australopithecine species are directly ancestral to humans, however others hold they are a "side-branch" of the line that led to humans, and not direct human ancestors.
africanus, which are termed "gracile." The smaller gracile forms Australopithecus africanus and Australopithecus afarensis (the species which includes the famous fossil “Lucy") are typically thought to be the most closely related to humans.
Studies have found that Australopithecus africanus (very similar to Australopithecus afarensis), the australopithecine species often thought to be the most closely related to humans, had a body shape more similar to modern apes than to members of the genus Homo.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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