Genus Australopithecus

∞ generated and posted on 2016.11.10 ∞

Taxon of relatively small brained and gracile bipedal apes.

Members of genus Australopithecus can be viewed as somewhat chimpanzee-like but nonetheless upright walking apes. These are the animals that are considered to have served as the bipedal forerunners of our own genus, genus Homo, which by contrast display relatively large brains.

The two most famous of the Australopithecus species are Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus. Australopithecus africanus was once thought to be the ancestor to genus Homo, or at least evolutionarily closely related to genus Homo, a so-called missing link between more quadrupedal and more bipedal hominids.

Australopithecus afarensis is a more primitive ancestor to Australopithecus africanus, one that is thought to be closer than Australopithecus africanus to the hominin that directly gave rise to genus Homo. The most famous of genus Australopithecus fossils, Lucy, is a member of the Australopithecus afarensis species.

Though australopithecines were once considered to exist in both gracile (slighter) and robust forms, the latter have now been assigned to a separate genus, Paranthropus. Together these two genera make up what can be described as australopiths.

The following video compares the skull of Australopithecus afarensis to that of Homo sapiens:

The following video is of a song, very nicely done, though keep in mind that the robust species are now assigned to genus Paranthropus: