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Australopithecus africanus (fossil hominid) (Upper Pliocene, 2.01 to 2.05 Ma; Sterkfontein, Gauteng Province, South Africa) 2 | by James St. John
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Australopithecus africanus (fossil hominid) (Upper Pliocene, 2.01 to 2.05 Ma; Sterkfontein, Gauteng Province, South Africa) 2

Australopithecus africanus Dart, 1925 - fossil hominid from the Pliocene of South Africa. (replica of TM-STS 5 (Sterkfontein collection, Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, South Africa) on public display at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

 

Hominids are humans. Fossils of the human family are known back to the Miocene, with many species known from Pliocene and Pleistocene sedimentary rocks. Only one species in Family Hominidae is alive today, in the late Holocene - that's us, Homo sapiens. Hominids originated in Africa - that's where the oldest human fossils occur. Everyone on Earth is African, from an evolutionary point-of-view.

 

The species Australopithecus africanus existed from about 2.04 to 3.03 million years ago, during the Late Pliocene in South Africa. The discovery specimen is a child's skull and brain endocast. The specimen shown here is an adult. The position of the foramen magnum at the bottom of skulls of Australopithecus africanus indicates that this organism was an upright biped. Hundreds of fossils of this species are now known from South Africa. Like its ancestral species, Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus was probably a fruit and leaf eater.

 

Classification: Animalia, Chordata, Vertebrata, Mammalia, Primates, Hominidae

 

Stratigraphy: Upper Pliocene, 2.01 to 2.05 Ma

 

Locality: Sterkfontein, Gauteng Province, northeastern South Africa

 

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Taken on December 18, 2011