Part III: Pliocene Epoch

9. Gracile Australopiths

Australopith fossil sites. Map of the fossil sites of the early hominids (4.4-1M BP)” by Kameraad Pjotr and Sting is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Genus Australopithecus (“southern ape”) was first used in 1924 by Raymond Dart for the “Taung Child,” a juvenile Au. africanus specimen from the quarry site of Taung, in South Africa. Au. anamensis, afarensis, africanus, and sediba (depending on the evolutionary schema of individual paleoanthropologists) are popularly known as gracile australopiths, due to their more gracile masticatory apparatus relative to the robust paranthropines.

An australopith outlook. By Keenan Taylor, CC-BY-NC-SA.