They were shorter and lighter than modern humans, weighing between about 27 kg and 49 kg (60 lbs and 108 lbs), and ranging from about 1.1 m to 1.5 m (3’ 7” to 4’11”) tall – very similar to modern chimpanzees.Their brain capacity was also comparable to that of the modern great apes, at about 390 cc to 550 cc, or about a third of modern humans’. They had strong, slightly curved, fingers and thumbs, while their feet were short, with less flexible toes than other apes and more like ours.Their strong arms and fingers could have aided climbing, which may mean they spent some of their time in trees.

Males and females of some species looked very different.

Males of some species were much larger than females, as with other primates, such as gorillas and orangutans. Between 4-million and 2-million years ago, you might have bumped into an anywhere in East or Southern Africa – they ranged widely over the continent.

In the early part of the 20th century, palaeontologists believed that humankind’s origins lay in Asia or Europe.

was an early ancestor of modern humans, was much smaller than us, and walked upright, but was probably unable to make tools.

South Africa, and the Cradle of Humankind in particular, is extremely rich in was not an ape at all.

It was an upright-walking hominid with human-like teeth and hands and some ape-like features, such as a small brain, flattened nose and forward-projecting jaws.Many fossils of specimens, which lived between 3-million and 2-million years ago.The first adult fossil of this hominid (TM 1511), was found at Sterkfontein by Dr Robert Broom in 1936.A well-known example is “Mrs Ples” (Sts 5), which was discovered by Broom and John Robinson in 1947. These include several specimens, such as Stw 252, excavated by Alun Hughes and Phillip Tobias, and Sts 71, discovered by Broom and John Robinson in 1947.The australopithecines were apelike, but were different from the other great apes of the past and today in that their powerful jaws housed smaller canines – though they were still larger than ours.They were also habitually bipedal, meaning they regularly walked upright (other great apes walk upright only in short stints).