The term Australopithecine refers to any species in the related genera Australopithecus or Paranthropus. These species occurred in the Pliocene–Pleistocene era, and were bipedal. The arrangement of their teeth, especially the dental arcade, was similar to humans.
- Sahelanthropus, about seven million years ago (mya)
- Australopithecus, about four mya
- Paranthropus, about 2.7 mya
When used alone, the term refers to both genera together. Australopithecus is sometimes referred to as the "gracile (slender) australopithecines", while Paranthropus are also called the "robust australopithecines".
A likely ancestor of the Australopithecines is the genus Ardipithecus genus, which lived in East Africa. The genus Homo (humans), appears about 2.4 million years ago with Homo habilis. They may be descended from australopithecine ancestors, more precisely from Kenyanthropus platyops branching off Australopithecus some 3.5 million years ago.
An alternative possibility is that Homo derived directly from Ardipithecus, with an as yet undiscovered link connecting Ardipithecus and Homo habilis existing in parallel to the Australopithecines in the period 4 to 2.5 million years ago.