He based this mainly on the shape and position of the base of the brain cast.It indicated that the , or hole in the skull through which the spinal cord passes, pointed downward and was nearly at the central balance point of the skull.Because of its small size, he called it the "Taung baby." In fact, its teeth indicate that it was a 3-4 year old child.Despite its relatively small brain, he concluded that this species was intermediate between apes and humans.By 3 million years ago, they were common in both East and South Africa.Some have been found dating to this period in North Central Africa also.Over the last decade, there have been a number of important fossil discoveries in Africa of what may be very early transitional ape/hominins, or proto-hominins.
Before the 1920's, knowledge of our fossil ancestors only went back to the Neandertals in Europe and some presumably earlier human-like forms from Java, in Southeast Asia.
As the australopithecines evolved, they exploited more types of environments.
Their early proto-hominin ancestors had been predominantly tropical forest animals.
However, African forests were progressively giving way to sparse woodlands and dry grasslands, or savannas .
The australopithecines took advantage of these new conditions.