These were the australopithecines, and for the next five million years they would be the world's dominant hominid species. (Austral is from the Latin for "southern" and has no connection in this context to Australia.) Australopithecines came in several varieties, some slender and gracile, like Raymond Dart's Taung child, others more sturdy and robust, but all were capable of walking upright. Some of these species existed for well over a million years, others for a more modest few hundred thousand, but it is worth bearing in mind that even the least successful had histories many times longer than we have yet achieved.
The most famous hominid remains in the world are those of a 3.18-million-year-old australopithecine found at Hadar in Ethiopia in 1974 by a team led by Donald Johanson. Formally known as A.L. (for "Afar Locality") 288-1, the skeleton became more familiarly known as Lucy, after the Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." Johanson has never doubted her importance. "She is our earliest ancestor, the missing link between ape and human," he has said.
Lucy was tiny—just three and a half feet tall. She could walk, though how well is a matter of some dispute. She was evidently a good climber, too. Much else is unknown. Her skull was almost entirely missing, so little could be said with confidence about her brain size, though skull fragments suggested it was small. Most books describe Lucy's skeleton as being 40 percent complete, though some put it closer to half, and one produced by the American Museum of Natural History describes Lucy as two-thirds complete. The BBC television series Ape Man actually called it "a complete skeleton," even while showing that it was anything but.