Australopithecus in East and South Africa

Session Date: 
May 31, 2019

Australopithecus is a genus of hominins whose evolutionary evidence is confined to the African continent. The genus evolved in eastern and/or southern Africa around 4 million years ago, eventually becoming extinct slightly less than two million years ago. Australopithecus is scientifically accepted as the common ancestor of the Paranthropus and Homo. Scientists recognize five species of Australopithecines; Australopithecus anamensis, A. afarensis, A. africanus, A. garhi, and A. sediba. Their relationship to each other and the earliest form of Homo, Homo habilis, remains controversial due to the sparse fossil record in Africa. There are 2 main ways of expressing evolutionary relationships: phylogenetic trees and cladograms. This presentation will explore current fossil evidence regarding members of the genus Australopithecus and their phylogenetic and cladistic relationships.