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Any of several early hominids of the genus Australopithecus of eastern and southern Africa, known from fossils dating from about 4 million to about 1 million years ago. The most complete australopithecine skeleton found so far, named Lucy by its discoverers, is estimated to be just over 3 million years old. While many scientists believe that australopithecines are ancestors of modern humans, not enough fossils have yet been found to establish any direct descent.