JOHN READER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN READER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Collection of fossil skulls and fragments of jaw bones from the oldest known group of hominids, the Australopithecinae. All these specimens were found in limestone caves in South Africa. The australopithecine group dates from 3.7 to 1.6 million years ago and was widely distributed throughout Africa. Three species are known and two distinct types, gracile and robust: the former were lightly-built and omnivorous, the latter heavily-built and vegetarian. An example of the robust australpithecine (SK 48) is visible here at bottom right and a gracile skull commonly known as Mrs Ples (STS 5) is at top left.
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