Australopithecus

noun 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 CouveringNatural HistoryJune 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. WilsonSociobiology1980
Note: The genus Australopithecus often includes only the gracile australopithecines with the robust forms being placed in the genus Paranthropus.

There's more!

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Origin and Etymology of australopithecus

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


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up Australopithecus? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

spoken rather than written

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!