22. Before Australopithecus

The Earliest Hominins

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Scott W. Simpson

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch22

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Simpson, S. W. (2013) Before Australopithecus, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch22

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • Ardipithecus;
  • Orrorin;
  • Sahelanthropus;
  • hominins


During 7-4 Ma period, fossils of hominins have been recovered from the East African Rift in Ethiopia and Kenya and the paleo-Lake Chad basin in Chad. These fossils are allocated to three genera, namely, Sahelanthropus, Orrorin, and Ardipithecus. Each group provides evidence of a non-honing maxillary canine and bipedality — the currently recognized hallmarks of the hominin lineage. This chapter reviews hominin fossils spanning between seven and four million years ago (Ma) and their ecological and geological context, compares the collections, and provides some discussion of their significance. It includes a short summary of the history of the finding of the fossils known from between 7 and 4.3 Ma, a review of their locomotor anatomy, and a short discussion of their phylogenetic relationships. The fossils and their context provide insight into the range and habitat preferences of the hominins.