Habitat: Eastern Africa
Time: From 3.85 to 2.95 million years ago
As one of the longest-living human species, they have survived for more than quadruple the existence of the modern human species, having lived for over 900 000 million years. They are bipedal and able to climb trees. Some fossils include Lucy, Lucy's baby, and Laetoli footprint trails.
They were named by Tim White and Donald Johanson in 1978.
Long, curved fingers.
One-third the size of a modern human brain.
Australopithecus afarensis possess more apelike characteristics than humanlike ones. Their physical attributes adapted to the changes in the environment and climate, allowing them to climb trees and walk upright.
Althought they have canine teeth, they were small and not used for violence.
These early humans also had a small brain, less than 500 cubic centimeters.
On average, females are smaller than males, as they weigh 29 kg and have a height of 105 cm while males weigh 42 kg and have a height of 151 cm.
Ridge over the eyes.
It was discovered that this species mature earlier than humans do. Because they reach adulthood at an earlier age, they have less time to adapt and socialize with others. They also lack parental guidance. With the discovery of DIK-1-1, it is found that not only do these early humans grow faster but they also possess the ability to walk and climb trees at a very young age.
Small canine teeth (humanlike).
Stronger upper torso than humans.
By looking at the remains of their teeths, paleoanthropologists are able to conclude that Australopithecus' diet is plant-based, eating leaves, fruit, seeds, etc. However, they have eaten small vertebrates, such lizards.
It is said that they usually eat soft fruits, but the size and shape of their teeth suggest the possibility of digesting hard foods as well when fruits were not available, also known as "fallback" foods.
Australopithecus afarensis had a Stronger upper torso compared to humans and long, curved fingers and toes. These attributes allowed them to climb trees. Having a powerful chest and strong upper arm muscles were also contributed to their ability to climb trees.
As well as tree-climbing, these early humans were able to walk upright due to the strength and position of the feet, thigh bones, and pelvis which held their body upright and supported their body weight when walking.
It is unsure if they walk differently compared to modern humans and if they spend more time walking or climbing trees. Nevertheless, these abilities is what helped them survive for as long as they have.
Where they lived was related to their diets, living in the savannas and open woodlands where they can find food easily. With the ability to walk upright and climb trees, they are able to find what they need in several diverse environments such as woodlands and grasslands. Also, they were able to live both on the ground and up in the trees.
The species tend to stay in groups, where the males would remain in one group while females move around as they begin to sexually mature.
Also known as Lucy, people have said it to be the "most famous of all early human individuals." This skeleton is estimated to be around 3.2 million years old. She was found as a partial skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson and Maurice Taieb in Hadar, Ethiopia. Her wide pelvis, thigh bones, and compact feet gave her the ability to walk upright while her long arm bones and long,curved toe bones gave her the ability to climb trees.
Found near the discovery site of Lucy, this fossil is the most complete of a human child before the Neanderthal times. Although, these remains is of a 3-year old child, DIK-1-1 has lived 100,000 years before the fossilized Lucy. It was her remains that furthered researchers' knowledge in early human growth patterns. She can walk upright and climb trees as well, due to her "gorilla-like" collarbone and long, curved fingers.
In 1978, paleontologist Mary Leakey, Paul Abell and their team discovered a 27m trail of about 70 footprints. It is said to be made by two humans of Australopithecus afarensiss species who had left footprints when walking through wet volcanic ash. The shape, length and configuration of the feet and toes resembles those an early human which at that time can only be of the said species. These prints are the oldest footprints found of early humans.
Most of the fossils were found in Ethiopia and Laetoli. However, some fossils found raised more unanswered questions regarding the appearance and lifestyle of the species. One good example is the 3.5 million years-old fossil found in Chad, which caused people to wonder if Australopithecus afarensis had lived in central Africa. These fossils below are some of the most famous of Australopithecus afarensis.