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Australopithecus africanus: Taung 1

  • Common Name:

    Taung Child

  • Geologic Age:

    approx. 3 Ma to less than 2.5 Ma

  • Discovery Date:


  • Discovered By:

    Raymond Dart

  • Discovery Location:

    Taung, South Africa

  • Cranial Capacity:

    382-404 cc

  • Specimen Age:

    Juvenile, 3-5 ya

  • Sex:


  • Original Publication:

    Dart 1925

    Taung is represented by a nearly complete face, mandible, and partial endocranial cast. In Raymond Dart's original publication of the fossils in the journal Nature1, he noted several human-like characteristics: a noticeable glabella; a small interorbital region; circular orbits; relatively slight facial prognathism; a small nasal aperture; relatively derived dental morphology (small incisor-like canines, and the absense of a diastema between the canine and first lower premolar); and a relatively large endocranial capacity than modern adult apes. Most importantly, Dart pointed to a relatively inferior placement of the foramen magnum, which suggested that Taung was bipedal. The Taung child also has a noticeably high and rounded forehead, and gracile zygomatic arches and mandible. The estimated cranial capacity for the juvenile Taung 1 is 405 cc, with an estimated adult size of 440 cc, which is relatively much larger than the adult chimpanzee mean of about 400 cc. The complete deciduous dentition is present as well as all four first molars4.

    1. Dart RA. 1925. Australopithecus africanus: The man-ape of South Africa. Nature 115: 195-199.
    2. Schwartz JH and Tattersall I. 2005. The Human Fossil Record: Craniodental Morphology of Early Hominids (Genera Australopithecus, Paranthropus, Orrorin), and Overview. Volume Four. Hoboken: Wiley-Liss.

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