Talking Stone Rock Art Coso America USA Documentary Film
FOSSIL SKULLS STONE TOOLS OVERVIEW HUMAN EVOLUTION 13 BIG QUESTIONS
Australopithecus africanus
Australopithecus africanus
Bradshaw Foundation Origins Archive
 
Australopithecus africanus was an early hominid, living between 3 and 2 million years ago - in the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene. It shared with its older Australopithecus afarensis a slender build. Unlike Australopithecus afarensis however, it had a larger brain and more humanoid facial features. It is thought to be a direct ancestor of modern humans. Australopithecus africanus has been found at only four sites in southern Africa - Taung [1924], Sterkfontein [1935], Makapansgat [1948] and Gladysvale [1992].
AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFRICANUS
AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFRICANUS
Australopithecus africanus South Africa
Genus: Australopithecus
Species: Australopithecus africanus
Other Names: Taung Child
Time Period: 3 to 2 million years ago
Characteristics: Tool User
Fossil Evidence: Fossil sites, South Africa

AUSTRALOPITHECUS AFRICANUS

 
Australopithecus afarensis Taung Child Skull
Taung Child Skull Replica
The Taung fossil evidence was found by Raymond Dart, who assigned the name Australopithecus africanus, meaning 'southern ape of Africa’, and the soubriquet 'Taung Child'. He claimed the species was intermediate between apes and humans. The further discoveries confirmed this as a new genus.
 
Makapansgat Pebble
Makapansgat Pebble
Makapansgat is also the site of the discovery of the Makapansgat pebble. This is a 260-gram jasperite cobble with natural chipping and wear patterns that make it look like a crude rendition of a human face. The pebble, found some distance from any possible natural source, was in the possesion of a female Australopithecus africanus.
 
Australopithecus africanus
Artists Impression of
Australopithecus africanus
The pebble was not a manufactured object, but it was possibly recognized it as a symbolic face, and treasured as such. This would make it the oldest known sculpture, or manuport [a natural object which has been moved from its original context by human agency but otherwise remains unmodified] known.
 
Like Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, the South African counterpart, was a bipedal hominid with arms slightly larger than the legs. Despite its slightly more human-like cranial features, other more primitive features including ape-like curved fingers for tree climbing are also present. It had a pelvis that was built for slightly better bipedalism than that of Australopithecus afarensis. Researchers believe the hominin, instead of being a direct ancestor of more modern hominins, evolved into Paranthropus.