Archaeology
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Australopithecus, (Latin: “southern ape”) (genus Australopithecus), group of extinct primates closely related

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to, if not actually ancestors of, modern human beings and known from a series of fossils found at numerous sites in eastern, north-central, and southern Africa. The various species of Australopithecus lived 4.4 million to 1.4 million years ago (mya), during the Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs (which lasted from 5.3 million to 11,700 years ago). The genus name, meaning “southern ape,” refers to the first fossils found, which were discovered in South Africa. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Australopithecus is “Lucy,” a remarkably preserved fossilized skeleton from Ethiopia that has been dated to 3.2 mya.

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