Australopithecus afarensis

Australopithecus afarensis
Temporal range: Pliocene, 3.9–2.9 Ma
Lucy Mexico.jpg
A replica of the remains of Lucy, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Primates
Suborder:Haplorhini
Infraorder:Simiiformes
Family:Hominidae
Subfamily:Homininae
Tribe:Hominini
Genus:Australopithecus
Species:
A. afarensis
Binomial name
Australopithecus afarensis
Synonyms[2]
  • Homo antiquus Ferguson, 1984

Australopithecus afarensis (Latin: "Southern ape from Afar") is an extinct hominin that lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago [3] in Africa.[4][5][6] A. afarensis was slenderly built, like the younger Australopithecus africanus. A. afarensis is thought to be more closely related to the genus Homo (which includes the modern human species Homo sapiens), whether as a direct ancestor or a close relative of an unknown ancestor, than any other known primate from the same time.[7] Some researchers include A. afarensis in the genus Praeanthropus.[8]

The most famous fossil is the partial skeleton named Lucy (3.2 million years old) found by Donald Johanson, who was playing the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (where the name Lucy comes from) while at the dig site.[9][10][11]

Localities

Australopithecus afarensis fossils have only been discovered within Eastern Africa. Despite Laetoli being the type locality for A. afarensis, the most extensive remains assigned to the species are found in Hadar, Afar Region of Ethiopia, including the above-mentioned "Lucy" partial skeleton and the "First Family" found at the AL 333 locality. Other localities bearing A. afarensis remains include Omo, Maka, Fejej, and Belohdelie in Ethiopia, and Koobi Fora and Lothagam in Kenya.