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How Bipedalism Arose

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When a person is asked how humans differ from apes, bipedalism would probably be the last thing that a modern human would think of. Bipedalism seems so ordinary when people live in a world of technology that has seen the inventions of cars, planes, and computers. When Albert Einstein is mentioned, very few would agree that his theory of relativity is second place to the feat of walking upright on two legs. Yet, if the first Hominids had not taken those first steps, humanity might not have evolved into the modern societies that currently exist. Although there may never be absolute evidence of why Hominids took those first crucial steps, evidence does suggest that human evolution went through many changes in order to make bipedalism the efficient way to travel.
Bipedalism is the defining human characteristic that separates man from his early ape ancestors. Before the first Hominid stood upright and walked on two legs, his ape cousin traveled around on all four appendages that kept their hands busy from other constructive pursuits, such as making tools. It is not that there are no apes that can walk on two legs, but as Jennifer Ackerman put it, "Two-legged walking in a chimp is an occasional, transitory behavior." Chimpanzees and bonobos have been observed to walk on two legs for short periods of time, even using tools, however their anatomy doesn't permit extended bipedalism like a human. The first Hominids first began to walk upright only 6 or 7 million years ago, and had not used bipedalism as the main mode of travel until 3.2 million years ago when Australopithecus afarensis first appeared. And ever since then man is has been the only primate to use bipedalism exclusively.
Many early researchers reasoned that bigger brains ca...

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...hat human ancestors could have ever done.

Works Cited

Ackerman, Jennifer. "The Downside of Upright." National Geographic, July 2006. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/2006/07/bipedal-body/ackerman-text
Brul, E. Lloyd Du. "The General Phenomenon of Bipedalism." American Zoologist 2, no.2 (1962): 205-208. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3881210
Johansen, Donald. "How Bipedalism Arose." NOVA. PBS. Accessed April 22, 2014. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/what-evidence-suggests.html
Shreeve, James. "Sunset on the Savanna." Discover, July 1996, 116-125.
Tomkins, Stephen. The Origins of Humankind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Wayman, Erin. "Becoming Human: The Evolution of Walking Upright." Smithsonian, August 6, 2012. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/becoming-human- the-evolution-of-walking-upright-13837658/?no-ist
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