Australopithecus HominidsIn the history of the world, about five million years ago there was an important event: some African anthropoid started to get used to walking upright. Apes that walked upright are called hominids. We are too a hominid species but the first hominids were much different from us. They were much shorter than us and had smaller, undeveloped brains. The first known hominid is called Australopithecus, meaning 'southern anthropoid'. It is known that he lived up to a million years ago. Experts discover bones of hominids all the time. The most famous are the bones of an Australopithecus skeleton from Hadar, in Ethiopia. The skeleton was named 'Lucy.' In Laetoli, Tanzania, experts have found traces of foot prints of Australopithecus, preserved in volcanic ash. These traces show that Lucy and her friends were bipeds.
At first, Australopithecus spent their time primarily in trees. They had long fingers and bent hands and feet and long arms, which can cling to branches in order to pass from one to another. But their knees were like ours, showing that they could easily live in bipedal position. It is not known why apes began to walk upright, but climate change could provide an explanation. It is known that 7 million years ago, Earth's climate became colder. In the forests of East Africa, where Australopithecus lived, they began to disappear. Fruits and leaves are becoming harder to find and so the Australopithecus had to travel farther away to find food. Walking on two legs was less tiring than on all four and the bipedal position also helped to see more easily and clearly dangerous animals in the tall grass from the forests.
Along all the discoveries through time, it is now known that there were three species of Australopithecus: Australopithecus afarensis, Australopithecus africanus, and Australopithecus robustus. The basic Australopithecus characteristics were small statures up to 1.40 meters tall, a small cranial volume, up to 500 cm2 with round faces, long canines and very thick bones. The main features of a reduced hunter class, with a strong inclination towards cooperative hunting.
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