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Raymond Arthur Dart
Smithsonian Institution Archives - SIA-SIA2008-0845.jpg
Dart in 1968
Born (1893-02-04)4 February 1893
Died 22 November 1988(1988-11-22) (aged 95)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality Australian
Alma mater Ipswich Grammar School, University of Queensland, University of Sydney
Known for Australopithecus africanus
Awards Viking Fund Medal (1957)
Scientific career
Fields anatomist, anthropologist
Influenced Patricia Vinnicombe
Australopithecus africanus - Cast of taung child Face
Raymond Dart's great discovery: the Taung Child, Australopithecus africanus

Raymond Arthur Dart (4 February 1893 – 22 November 1988) was an Australian anatomist and anthropologist, who worked for much of his life in South Africa.

In 1924 he discovered the first fossil of an Australopithecine, at Taung in Northwestern South Africa (now Botswana). It was Australopithecus africanus, an extinct hominid closely related to humans. This was a great event in the study of human evolution.

Early life

Dart was born in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, the son of a farmer and tradesman. He studied at the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney and University College London, before taking a position as head of the newly established department of anatomy at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1922.


Because he was an Australian, and not a part of the scientific establishment, and because he found the fossil in Africa, and not Europe or Asia, where the establishment looked to for man's origins, his findings were initially dismissed.

Dart's closest ally was Robert Broom whose discoveries of further Australopithecines (and Wilfrid Le Gros Clark's support) eventually vindicated Dart. So much so that in 1947, Sir Arthur Keith said "...Dart was right, and I was wrong."

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