- "This is Australopithecus. Go back 200,000 generations, and your relatives would look something like these."
Australopithecus (meaning Southern Ape) was a genus of a bidepal prehistoric ape (primate) that lived in Africa and was directly ancestral to modern humans. It has been described as the missing link.
Australopithecus lived during the Pliocene in South East Africa, 3.9-3 Million Years Ago.
The most remarkable animals of all, Australopithecus were a type of ape that clearly showed the first signs of becoming more human.
What made them closer to humans than other apes was not their brains, which were only one third of the size. It was not their skin, which is hairy. It's something they did that other apes just don't. Something that one day led them to be described as a "missing link". These apes came down from the trees and walked upright.
Females were also just two thirds of the size of males, but the top males need their support if they want to stay in charge.
BehaviorEditThey lived in groups as much as 8-12 with complex social structures and are also very political animals. Males are only the "top males" for as long as the females wanted them to be.
Walking on two legs was an efficient way to travel and gave the Australopithecus a higher viewpoint than other apes. Australopithecus slept in the trees because it was safer, and they made a new nest every night by folding down a bed of branches. Primates were once all nocturnal creatures, but not anymore. Some, like Australopithecus, evolved great color vision, allowing them to pick out succulent leaves and fruit, but this had come at the expense of their night vision, which was poor compared to most animals.
So for these apes and, in the future, humans, the night was a time to sleep. These apes spent a lot of time grooming to make new social bonds and strengthen old ones. It was their equivalent of talking. While male Australopithecus stayed within the same group their whole lives, females moved to a new group when they were old enough to mate.