modern Latin, GreekShow more Name coined by R.A. Dart, modern Latin australis southern + Greek píthēkos ape (see Dart quotation, 1925).
An extinct genus of small-brained, bipedal hominids living in southern and eastern Africa between one and four million years ago. Also attributive.See also Mrs Ples, Saldanha sense 2.
1925Star 5 Feb.Why was ‘Australopithecus africanus’ something that was ceasing to be an animal but could not be described as the ‘Pithecanthropus erectus’ of Java has been, as something which was becoming a man?
1925R.A. Dart inNature 7 Feb. 199I propose tentatively, then, that a new family of Homo-simiadae be created..and that the first known species of the group be designated Australopithecus Africanus in commemoration first, of the extreme southern and unexpected horizon of its discovery, and secondly of the continent in which so many new and important discoveries have been made, thus vindicating the Darwinian claim that Africa would prove to be the cradle of mankind.
1959J.D. ClarkPrehist. of S. Afr. 62The first adult Australopithecus specimen...Believing it to be rather different from the Taung child, Broom gave it the distinct generic name of Plesianthropus Transvaalensis. Now..anatomists are agreed that only one generic form is represented in the Man-ape remains, but that two specific forms exist — Australopithecus and a later, more specialized form Paranthropus.
1967E.H. LennebergBiol. Foundation of Lang. 258If the modern apes do not talk, this is no evidence against the possibility that Australopithecus had some potential for a primitive form of speech-like communication.
1978R.R. InskeepPeopling of Sn Afr. 27Today, all the South African man-apes are accommodated in a single genus Australopithecus containing two species, africanus and robustus.
1984S. Afr. Panorama Aug. 35Dr Dart’s find enabled Dr Robert Broom to establish beyond any doubt the significance of the discoveries at Sterkfontein, Kromdraai and Swartkrans..of fossil remains of hundreds of Australopithecus man.
1988Cape Times 5 Dec. 6Bones recovered from the Swartkrans cave suggest that Homo erectus or Australopithecus robustus cooked on fires, sought heat from them or used them to frighten predators as long as 1,5 million years ago.
1990Sunday Star 23 Dec. (Review) 8Makapansgat is one of three South African sites to yield remains of Australopithecus africanus.
1994S. Armstrong inSunday Times 18 Sept. 22Professor Dart claimed the Taung child — which he named Australopithecus africanus — was the missing link between apes and man.