[ aw-strey-loh-pith-i-kuhs, -puh-thee-kuhs, aw-struh-loh- ]

  1. 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.

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-,

Words Nearby Australopithecus Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Australopithecus in a sentence

Cultural definitions for 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.