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1925, coined by Australian anthropologist Raymond A. Dart (1893-1988) from Latin australis "southern" (see Australia) + Greek pithekos "ape." So called because first discovered in South Africa.
An extinct genus of the hominid family that lived in Africa from about three to one million years ago. The name means “southern ape.”
Note: Members of this genus were the ancestors of modern humans. One of the best-known fossils, Lucy, was a member of this genus.