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Origins of Humankind
The Hominid Family Tree

Orrorin tugenensis
(6 mya)

Ardipithecus ramidus
(4.4 mya)

Australopithecus anamensis
(4.2 to 3.9 mya)

Australopithecus afarensis
(3.6 to 2.9 mya)

Kenyanthropus platyops
(3.5 to 3.3 mya)

Australopithecus africanus
(3 to 2 mya)

Australopithecus aethiopicus
(2.7 to 2.3 mya)

Australopithecus garhi
(2.5 mya)

Australopithecus boisei
(2.3 to 1.4 mya)

Homo habilis
(2.3 to 1.6 mya)

Homo erectus
(1.8 to 0.3 mya)

Australopithecus robustus
(1.8 to 1.5 mya)

Homo heidelbergensis
(600 to 100 tya)

Homo neanderthalensis
(250 to 30 tya)

Homo sapiens
(100 tya to present)

mya = millions of years ago        tya = thousands of years ago


Australopithecus boisei (2.3 to 1.4 million years ago)

Species Description:

Australopithecus boisei is similar in body and brain size to A. robustus. Like members of many other Australopithecus species, males and females of A. boisei showed marked differences in size. Some features of A. boisei's skull, including the large grinding teeth, are even larger than are those of A. robustus. Certain molars measure up to two centimeters in length from front to back. A. boisei probably inhabited mixed woodland and savanna habitats, where individuals would most likely have eaten foods like nuts and roots.

Fossil Finds:

Estimated age: 1.8 million years
Date of discovery: 1959
Location: Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

This nearly complete cranium was the first specimen of A. boisei ever found. It was initially thought to be a direct human ancestor until scientists discovered Homo habilis nearby.

Konso Skull
Estimated age: 1.4 million years
Date of discovery: 1993
Location: Konso, Ethiopia

This is the largest A. boisei cranium ever found. It exhibits many features unique to its species, but it differs enough from other specimens to suggest that individuals varied dramatically in size and shape.

-> Go to Homo habilis

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