Definition of Australopithecus in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌôstrəlōˈpiTHəkəs/


A fossil bipedal primate with both apelike and human characteristics, found in Pliocene and lower Pleistocene deposits (circa 4 million to 1 million years old) in Africa.
  • Genus Australopithecus, family Hominidae: several species, including the lightly built A. africanus, which is thought to be the immediate ancestor of the human genus Homo. The more heavily built forms (often placed in the genus Paranthropus), such as A. robustus and A. boisei, were probably evolutionary dead ends.
Example sentences
  • Bipedalism - the ability to walk upright on two legs - evolved in the ape-like Australopithecus at least 4.5 million years ago while they also retained the ability to travel through the trees.
  • Dart, who along with Charles Darwin before him suspected that Africa, not Asia, was the cradle of humankind, named the fossil Australopithecus, or ‘southern ape.’
  • In Australopithecus fossils, though, the muscle has a much more limited area of attachment.



Pronunciation: /-ˌsēn/ Pronunciation: /-ˌsīn/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • All hominids, including the australopithecines, are bipedal, meaning that they walk on two legs, and are therefore members of the ancestral lineage leading to modern humans (we are the sole bipedal apes).
  • How could the australopithecines survive in Pliocene Africa?
  • This hominid was larger than the australopithecines and Homo habilis, with a brain approaching the size of a modern human brain.


Modern Latin, from Latin australis 'southern' (see austral) + Greek pithēkos 'ape'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Aus·tra·lo·pith·e·cus

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