The first ever australopithecine fossil was found in 1924 at Taung, South Africa. It was the skull of a 6 year old child showing a mixture of human and ape like features.
This abnormal fossil was termed as Australopithecus (southern ape). Subsequent to this finding several additional skeletons, most of which were incomplete, were found.
All such finds fell into two groups: i) a lighter more progressive group and ii) a ' heavier less progressive group. The former were named as gracile type and the latter the robust us type.
The earliest known undisputed horninid fossils came from two separate sites from East Africa. The one site Laetoli is located 50 kms south of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. In this site M. Leaky found in volcanic ash a twenty meter trail of footprints of three hominids of 3.75 million years age. Also fossil fragments of 13 individuals, mostly teeth and jaws with a few post-cranial bones were found. The second site is from Hadar in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia. In 1974 D.C. Jolianson, an American anthropologist discovered a remarkable hominid fossil which consisted of 40% of the skeleton of a 0.9 meter tall female australopithecine.