Aus·​tra·​lo·​pith·​e·​cus | \ -ˈpithikəs \

Definition of Australopithecus

: a genus of extinct early hominids of southern and eastern Africa comprising the australopithecines when considered to include both the gracile and robust forms The advanced prehuman Australopithecus first appears in the middle Pliocene, 3.5 million years ago …— John Van Couvering, Natural History, June 1992 Two or more species of hominids did coexist in the past, when the Australopithecus man-apes in addition to an early Homo lived in Africa.— Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology, 1980

Note: The genus Australopithecus often includes only the gracile australopithecines with the robust forms being placed in the genus Paranthropus.

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History and Etymology for Australopithecus

New Latin, from Latin australis southern + New Latin -o- + -pithecus

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Cite this Entry

“Australopithecus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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