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A major division of early Pleistocene deposits and time, named for a sequence of terrestrial sediments studied in the region of Villafranca d'Asti, an Italian town near Turin. This was a time when new mammals suddenly appeared in the Lower Pleistocene period. The Villafranchian is also significant because within it the earliest hominids that clearly evolved into modern man (the australopithecines) appeared. The Villafranchian is in part contemporaneous with the Blancan Stage of North America.