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The Earliest Hominines The first undoubted hominine discovered thus far is Ardipithecus ramidus which was found in 1994 and is known from 17 fragments of teeth and bone It dates to approximately 44 million years ago Thought to be the descendent genus of Ardipithecus is the genus Australopithecus individuals of this genus were bipeds while on the ground and had ape-like brains and dexterous hands There are at least six species of Australopithecus A anamensis A afarensis A aethiopicus A africanus A boisei and A robustus In 1924 an unusual fossil was brought to Raymond Dart an anatomist at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg This fossil had a curious mix of ape-like and human-like traits Dart named the fossil Australopithecus africanus and claimed that based on the forward position of the foramen magnum the creature was a biped At least four species are recognized A afarensis and A africanus being smaller and lacking the massive jaws of the two larger species A boisei and A robustus A afarensis and A boisei are from East Africa while A africanus and A robustus are from South Africa An earlier species A anamensis comes from Kenya while a single representative of a sixth species A aethiopicus comes from West Turkana and is known as the black skull for its distinctive black staining Australopithecus africanus has been discovered at three South African sites Taung Makapansgat and Sterkfontein All of these sites range in date from 3 to 23 mya however a partial foot may be as old as 35 million years Australopithecus afarensis dates to between 39 and 29 mya and was discovered in the 1970s and 1990s in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia Included in this species are the two famous finds of Don Johanson the remarkably complete female skeleton AL 288-1 known as Lucy and the collection of 13 individuals at Afar Locality 333 which has come to be known as the First
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