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Australopithecus

Prehistoric Life: Australopithecus
Image: BBC

Prehistoric Life: Australopithecus

Members of the Australopithecus group stood less than 5 feet, but some 4 million years ago they were the first early human ancestors to walk tall — meaning upright.

Although she didn’t have many of our modern physical characteristics, the fossil called Lucy is “the mother of man.” Discover her important link to human evolution.

BBC
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3D Hominid Skulls

3D Hominid Skulls

Compare the evolution of skull shape in Australopithecus, Homo erectus, Neanderthal, Homo sapiens, and the chimpanzee — species who all shared a common ancestor some 5 to 8 million years ago. More...

Interactive
Natural History Museum, London
Lucy’s Giant Leap

Lucy’s Giant Leap

When a tree-dwelling ape species adapted to living on grasslands millions of years ago by walking upright, it was the first major change in an evolutionary chain reaction. Find out what else happened. More...

Video
History Channel
Compare the Skeletons

Compare the Skeletons

The transition from walking on all fours to walking upright didn't occur overnight. Compare the skeletons of chimps, early human predecessors, and modern humans to see the changes that took place. More...

Interactive
NOVA/PBS
Evolution Laetoli Footprints

Evolution Laetoli Footprints

Cast in volcanic ash nearly 4 million years ago, footprints show evidence of animals walking, including three individuals who walked upright. Find out the significance of this path of prints. More...

Video
PBS
Evolution: Humans: Riddle of the Bones

Evolution: Humans: Riddle of the Bones

Fossils discovered in East Africa paint a picture of an early human ancestor. What do they tell us eons later? Pay close attention to the details to decipher their meaning. More...

Interactive
PBS
Meave Leakey Biography

Meave Leakey Biography

She found fossils suggesting an unknown species that walked upright half a million years earlier than previously thought. Explore this discovery and Meave Leakey's other contributions to paleoanthropology. More...

Profile
Academy of Achievement
Pictures: New Human Ancestor Fossils Found

Pictures: New Human Ancestor Fossils Found

Take a look at pictures of a human-like ape child’s skull belonging to a previously unknown species. Could Australopithecus sediba be a direct ancestor of modern humans? More...

Images
National Geographic
Practice Quiz for Analysis of Early Hominins

Practice Quiz for Analysis of Early Hominins

Test your knowledge with these 13 Australopithecus-related questions. Take advantage of the hints and learn from the feedback on incorrect answers. More...

Interactive
Palomar College
Q&A: ‘Lucy’ Discoverer Donald C. Johanson

Q&A: ‘Lucy’ Discoverer Donald C. Johanson

He unearthed Lucy, the fossil skeleton that showed walking upright was one of the earliest changes that made us human. Discover how else Johanson's find revolutionized the study of our origins. More...

Profile
TIME Magazine
The Human Lineage Through Time

The Human Lineage Through Time

Start some 4 million years ago on this interactive timeline to explore the different species of Australopithecus. More...

Interactive
Institute of Human Origins

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