Australopithicus africanus: The Taung Baby
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The first discovery of an early hominid species in Africa was by Raymond Dart, who found a well preserved skull of a juvenile in South Africa in 1924. His discovery led to an intense focus on Africa as the probable site of human origins and early development, as Charles Darwin had earlier predicted.

Dart named this newly discovered species Australopthicus africanus, or "Southern Ape of Africa." This speciman of a child, often called the "Taung Baby," after the site in which it was discovered, preserves remarkable physical details. Some of the permanent teeth are not yet descended, suggesting an age of about 8 years at the time of death. An imprint of the brain case is preserved in limestone, and the foramen magnum, the opening in the skull through which the spinal cord attaches to the brain, indicates that this creature walked upright like human beings.


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