STATES CHRONICLE – Human ancestors were able to walk upright on two feet millions of years before they evolved larger brains and the higher state of consciousness that people enjoy today. Anthropologists say the ability to walk upright was a key factor that led to the advances in brain power.
That’s because walking on two feet meant the hands could be free to manipulate objects. This is believed to have eventually led to the development of tools and weapons. Walking upright also allowed our human ancestors to range far and wide. In turn, this enabled them to get better at finding food and supply for other existential needs.
How Walking on Two Feet Led to Where We are Today
A distant ancestor of modern humans was the Australopithecus. This likely first emerged about 3.6 million years ago. A partial skeleton of this species was first discovered by lime quarry workers in 1924 near Taung, South Africa.
Perhaps the most famous member of this long-extinct species is Lucy, found by paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson. Lucy’s skeleton was 40% complete. She was determined to have died some 3.2 million years ago.
Anthropologists got a big breakthrough in 1997 when a nearly complete Australopithecus skeleton was uncovered in a cave near Gauteng, South Africa. Having nearly all the bones, including foot bones, allowed scientist to run extensive tests on how these hominids walked.
The comparison between their footprints and those of modern-day humans revealed a surprisingly close match.
Scientists say watching one of these creatures walk would have looked “very human-like.”
This ability to walk with ease across flat surfaces meant no longer being dependent on trees. Namely, upright walking primates did not have to stay close to forested areas to seek shelter from predators because they could run or locate secure refuges in caves or other treeless locations.
Walking on two feet 3.6 million years ago provided the time needed for the painstaking evolutionary advances that led to the appearance of modern human beings.
The results of a study on the matter were presented in April during the American Association of Anatomists’ annual meeting.
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