Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Australopithecus, Homo erectus and the single species hypothesis


AN enormous wealth of early hominid remains has been discovered over the past few years by expeditions within eastern Africa. Evidence has been presented for the existence over a considerable period of time of at least two contemporaneous hominid species1. Some of this evidence is compelling, but some less so for a variety of reasons such as the lack of association, fragmentary specimens, geological uncertainties, equivocal anatomical differences and suchlike. Many of these new specimens are of great antiquity and have led to suggestions that an early form of the genus Homo was contemporary with at least one species of Australopithecus. The evidence presented here deals not with the earlier stages of human evolution, but with the unequivocal occurrence of H. erectus from the Koobi Fora Formation, east of Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf).

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Leakey, R. E. F., Nature, 231, 241–245 (1971); 237, 264–269 (1972); 242, 447–450 (1973); 248, 653–656 (1974).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Brace, C. L., The Stages of Human Evolution (Prentice Hall, Engelwood Cliffs, 1967).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Wolpoff, M. H., Man, 6, 601–614 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Gauss, G. F., The Struggle for Existence (Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, 1934).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Mayr, E., Cold Spring Harb. Symp and quant. Biol., 15, 108–118 (1950).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Leakey, R. E. F., Nature, 261, 574–576 (1976).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Bowen, B. E., and Vondra, C. F., Nature, 242, 391–393 (1973).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Weidenreich, F., Palaeont. Sinica, 10, 1–291 (1943).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Sartono, S., Koninkl. Ned. Akad. Wet., 74, 185–194 (1971).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Leakey, R. E. F., Mungai, J. M., and Walker, A. C., Am. J. Phys. Anthrop., 35, 175–186 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Curtis, G. M., Drake, Cerling, T., and Hampel, Nature, 258, 395–398 (1975).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Fitch, F. J., Findlater, I. C., Watkins, R. T., and Miller, J. A., Nature, 251, 213–215 (1974).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

LEAKEY, R., WALKER, A. Australopithecus, Homo erectus and the single species hypothesis. Nature 261, 572–574 (1976).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing