aus·​tra·​lo·​pith·​e·​cine | \ ȯ-ˌstrā-lō-ˈpi-thə-ˌsīn How to pronounce australopithecine (audio) , ä-; ˌȯ-strə-, ˌä- \

Definition of australopithecine

: any of various extinct hominids (genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus) that existed two to four million years ago in southern and eastern Africa and include gracile and robust forms exhibiting bipedal locomotion, near-human dentition, and relatively small brains

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Other Words from australopithecine

australopithecine adjective

Examples of australopithecine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Taung Child, our first encounter with an ancient group of proto-humans or hominins called australopithecines, was a turning point in the study of human evolution. Elizabeth Sawchuk, Smithsonian Magazine, "Archaeologists Are Unearthing the Stories of the Past Faster Than Ever Before," 27 Dec. 2019 Over the past few decades, researchers have discovered dozens of fragments of australopithecine fossils in Ethiopia and Kenya that date back more than 4 million years. Colin Barras, Scientific American, "Rare 3.8 Million-Year-Old Skull Recasts Origins of Iconic “Lucy” Fossil," 29 Aug. 2019 The new specimen—described today in the journal Nature—is the oldest skull ever found of an australopithecine, a pivotal group of early human ancestors that lived between 1.5 and four million years ago. Michael Greshko, National Geographic, "'Unprecedented' skull reveals face of human ancestor," 28 Aug. 2019 Our distant ancestors, such as the famous fossil Lucy and other australopithecines, matured quickly and died young like chimps. Ann Gibbons, Science | AAAS, "Neandertals, like humans, may have had long childhoods," 21 Sep. 2017 To a 3-foot-tall hobbit — about the same size as their distant australopithecine forebears — the 6-foot stork would have been huge, but in truth this bird was not much larger than its close relatives. Brian Switek, WIRED, "Legend of the Killer Storks," 4 Jan. 2011

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'australopithecine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of australopithecine

1943, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for australopithecine

ultimately from Latin australis + Greek pithēkos ape

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The first known use of australopithecine was in 1943

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Cite this Entry

“Australopithecine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2021.

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