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Paranthropus aethiopicus
Paranthropus boisei
Paranthropus robustus

The robust australopithecines, members of the extinct hominin genus Paranthropus (Greek para "beside", Greek anthropos "human"), were bipedal hominids that probably descended from the gracile australopithecine hominids (Australopithecus).[1]



All species of Paranthropus were bipedal, and many lived during a time when species of the genus Homo (which were possibly descended from Australopithecus), were prevalent. Paranthropus first appeared roughly 2.7 million years ago. Most species of Paranthropus had a brain about 40 percent of the size of a modern human. There was some size variation between the different species of Paranthropus, but most stood roughly 1.3-1.4 m (4.26 to 4.59 feet) tall and were quite well muscled. Paranthropus is thought to have lived in wooded areas rather than the grasslands of the Australopithecus.[citation needed]

The behavior of Paranthropus was quite different from that of the genus Homo, in that it was not as adaptable to its environment or as resourceful. Evidence of this exists in the form of its physiology which was specifically tailored to a diet of grubs and plants. This would have made it more reliant on favorable environmental conditions than members of the genus Homo, such as Homo habilis, which would eat a much wider variety of foods. Therefore, due to poor adaptation, Paranthropus boisei/ Robust Australopithecus died out leaving no descendants.

Disputed taxonomy

Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins notes "perhaps several different species" of robust hominids, and "as usual their affinities, and the exact number of species, are hotly disputed. Names that have been attached to various of these creatures...are Australopithecus (or Paranthropus) robustus, Australopithecus (or Paranthropus or Zinjanthropus) boisei, and Australopithecus (or Paranthropus) aethiopicus."[1] Opinions differ whether the species P. aethiopicus, P. boisei and P. robustus should be included within the genus Australopithecus. The emergence of the robusts could be either a display of divergent or convergent evolution. There is currently no consensus in the scientific community whether P. aethiopicus, P. boisei and P. robustus should be placed into a distinct genus, Paranthropus, which is believed to have evolved from the ancestral Australopithecus line. Up until the last half-decade, the majority of the scientific community included all the species of both Australopithecus and Paranthropus in a single genus. Currently, both taxonomic systems are used and accepted in the scientific community. However, although Australopithecus robustus and Paranthropus robustus are used interchangeably for the same specimens, some researchers, beginning with Robert Broom, and continuing with people such as Bernard A. Wood, think that there is a difference between Australopithecus and Paranthropus, and that there should be two genera.[2][3] On Wikipedia, this approach is utilised, and for the sake of consistency, the genus Paranthropus is used for all articles which mention the species P. aethiopicus P. boisei and P. robustus.

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