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Australopithecus

[ aw-strey-loh-pith-i-kuhs, -puh-thee-kuhs, aw-struh-loh- ]
/ ɔˌstreɪ loʊˈpɪθ ɪ kəs, -pəˈθi kəs, ˌɔ strə loʊ- /
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noun

an extinct genus of small-brained, large-toothed bipedal hominins that lived in Africa between one and four million years ago: the genus Homo, to which modern humans belong, is believed to have evolved from this genus or to have shared a common ancestor.

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Compare australopithecine. See also Paranthropus.

Origin of Australopithecus

First recorded in 1920–25; from New Latin: literally “southern ape,” equivalent to austrāl(is) “southern” + -o- connecting vowel + pithēcus “ape,” from Greek píthēkos. See austral1, -o-,
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Cultural definitions for Australopithecus

Australopithecus
[ (aw-stray-loh-pith-i-kuhs, aw-stray-loh-pi-thee-kuhs) ]

An extinct genus of the hominid family that lived in Africa from about three to one million years ago. The name means “southern ape.”

notes for Australopithecus

Members of this genus were the ancestors of modern humans. One of the best-known fossils, Lucy, was a member of this genus.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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