Dating of the taung child

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The most promising of these was a skull of an odd ape-like creature presenting human traits at the eye orbits, teeth, and, most importantly, the hole at the base of the skull over the spinal column (the foramen magnum); its placement indicated a human-like upright posture and implied a high probability that this hominid-to-hominin primate had achieved bipedal, as opposed to quadrupedal locomotion.

Dart assigned the specimen the name Australopithecus africanus ("southern ape of Africa"); it was also dubbed "the Taung child".

Keith's persistence in denouncing the possibility of Australopithecus while justifying the plausibility of Piltdown man was instrumental in binding the two issues inextricably together for over a generation.

He presented argument that implicated the motive of Keith's adamant and continual opposition to Australopithecus, to wit: if Australopithecus was a hominin ancestor, then Piltdown man could not have been and its bona fides would have been suspect and called out for formal investigation.

This was the first time the word "ape" (-pithecus) was formally assigned to any hominin, which, in effect, formally declared humans as descended from apes.

Dart theorized the Taung child skull must represent an intermediate species between apes and humans.

(Anatomy Department, University of the Witwatersrand) This skull was found in a limestone deposit at the Buxton Quarries near Taung, Northern Cape.

Dating to about 2,8 million years ago, the child was about 3 years old when it died.

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