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Study sheds light on why humans walk on two legs

their knucklewalking peers. And when the researchers examined the early hominid fossil record, they found evidence of these traits skeletal characteristics of the hip and hind limb that allow for greater extension of the hind limb -- in some early bipeds.

Taken together, the findings provide support for the hypothesis that anatomical differences affecting gait existed among our earliest apelike ancestors, and that these differences provided the genetic variation natural selection could act on when changes in the environment gave bipeds an advantage over quadrupeds.

Fossil and molecular evidence suggests the earliest ancestors of the human family lived in forested areas in equatorial Africa in the late Miocene era some 8 to 10 million years ago, when changes in climate may have increased the distance between food patches. That would have forced early hominids to travel longer distances on the ground and favored those who could cover more ground using less energy.

"This isn't the complete answer," Sockol said. "But it's a good piece of a puzzle humans have always wondered about: How and why did we become human" And why do we alone walk on two legs""


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Contact: Claudia Morain
cmmorain@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9841
University of California - Davis
23-Jul-2007


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