JOHN READER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JOHN READER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The original Taung specimen of Australopithecus africanus, discovered near Taung, South Africa in 1924. The skull's reconstruction (background) was made by Professor Raymond Dart who described the find in 1925. The specimen comprises part of a juvenile skull & mandible, & an endocast (petrified sediments filling the cranium) of the right half of the brain. The overall configuration is ape-like, but the teeth & braincast have several hominid features & the foramen magnum is set forward beneath the skull implying an erect, bipedal posture. Until further discoveries in the 1940s Dart was ridiculed for his view that A. africanus was an early stage of human evolution.
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