Definition of Australopithecus in English:

Australopithecus

noun

  • A fossil bipedal primate with both apelike and human characteristics, found in Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene deposits (c.4 million to 1 million years old) in Africa.

    • ‘Bramble adds that walking cannot explain the changes in body form that distinguish humans from Australopithecus.’
    • ‘Although we don't know if it was a direct human ancestor, Australopithecus was certainly closely related to the animals we are descended from.’
    • ‘She was dated at about 3.5 million years old and was a member of a prehuman genus called Australopithecus.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In Australopithecus fossils, though, the muscle has a much more limited area of attachment.’
    • ‘Scientists studied two species of early humans, Australopithecus africanus, which lived in southern Africa around three million years ago, and Paranthropus robustus, which inhabited the same area about a million years later.’
    • ‘The researchers say adaptations for running stretch back more than two million years, allowing humans to evolve from our apelike ancestors Australopithecus.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

Australopithecus

/ˌɒstrələʊˈpɪθɪkəs/