Australopithcinae or Dartians

Nature March 15, 1947

Arthur Keith


[10] When Prof. Raymond Dart, of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, announced in Nature 1 the discovery of a juvenile Australopithecus and claimed for it a human kinship, I was one of those who took the point of view that when the adult form was discovered it would prove to be near akin to the living African anthropoids—the gorilla and chimpanzee 2. Like Prof. Le Gros Clark 3, I am now convinced, on the evidence submitted by Dr. Robert Broom 4, that Prof. Dart was right and that I was wrong; the Australopithecinae are in or near the line which culminated in the human form. My only complaint now is the length of the name which the extinct anthropoid of South Africa must for ever bear. Seeing that Prof. Dart not only discovered them but also rightly perceived their true nature, I have ventured, when writing of the Australopithecinae to give them the colloquial name of 'Dartians', thereby saving much expenditure of ink and of print. The Dartians are ground-living anthropoids, human in posture, gait and dentition, but still anthropoid in facial physiognomy and in size of brain. It is much easier to say there was a ‘Dartian' phase in man's evolution than to speak of one which was .'australopithecine'.


  1. Nature, 115, 195 (1925).
  2. Nature, 115, 234 (1925).
  3. Nature, 159, 216 (1947).
  4. "The South African Fossil Ape-Man: The Australopithecinae" (1946).

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