aus·​tra·​lo·​pith·​e·​cine ȯ-ˌstrā-lō-ˈpi-thə-ˌsīn How to pronounce australopithecine (audio)
: 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
australopithecine adjective

Examples of australopithecine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web An australopithecine might encode this episode very simply—as a minor pain and as an identifiable feature of the shrub. Heather Pringle, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2016 One aggregate comprised later australopithecines, who lived in Africa from three million to 1.5 million years ago. Rachel Caspari, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2016 Recent analyses of fossil teeth indicate that grandparents were rare in ancient populations, such as those of the australopithecines and the Neandertals. Rachel Caspari, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2016 The list of prime suspects features several species of australopithecine, but Harmand and Lewis also have their eye on Kenyanthropus platyops, a fossil discovered in 1998 very close to the Lomekwi 3 site. Hillary Waterman, Discover Magazine, 30 Sep. 2015 Fossils show our australopithecine ancestors had vocal structures akin to gorillas, which lack the ability to carry a tune. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, 30 June 2018 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, 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, 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, 28 Aug. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'australopithecine.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


ultimately from Latin australis + Greek pithēkos ape

First Known Use

1943, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of australopithecine was in 1943

Dictionary Entries Near australopithecine

Cite this Entry

“Australopithecine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


aus·​tra·​lo·​pith·​e·​cine ȯ-ˌstrā-lō-ˈpith-ə-ˌsīn How to pronounce australopithecine (audio)
: of or relating to a group of extinct southern African apes that stood upright, walked on two legs, and had teeth somewhat like those of human beings but had a smaller brain
australopithecine noun
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