Re: bipedalism

Pat Dooley (
25 Apr 1995 04:10:33 -0400

Phillip Nicholls wrote:

>I believe that protohominids were very generalized apes and
>like most primates walked bipedally when the mood suited

You often use this argument; that primates walk bipedally
and human bipedalism is just a more extreme example of
such demonstrated bipedality. The glosses over the major
skeletal and anatomical changes that differentiate fully
bipedal human bipedality from the part-time bipedality of
other primates.

However, I did pick up from one of your earlier posts
a description of bipedal behavious by our closest
living relatives. I'll reproduce it for the benefit of those
who may have missed it before...

>This morning I was
>re-reading Frans de Waal's Peacemaking Among Primates,
>specifically the section on bonobos (Pan paniscus, also called
>pygmy chimpanzees). He (de Waal) offered some interesting
>observations that, if true, would support one of the planks in
>Hardy/Morgan's AAH. Bonobos differ from common chimpazees in
>a number of interesting ways. They have longer legs and when
>they stand upright they do so in a way that is more like us
>than common chimpanzees. In captivity, bonobos exhibited
>bipedal posture more often than common chimpanzees. As de
>Waal describes it, a bonobo standing upright looks an artists
>conception of primitive hominids with one notable exception --
>the big toe is large and divergent.

>What caught my attention was the following:
>"Both Kano and the Badrians [two primatologists who study
>bonobos in the wild --pn] have heard from local people that bonobos
>catch and eat fish. For many years field-workers found only
>ape footsteps and holes in the mud of small streams, but no
>direct evidence fish catching. On a recent field trip,
>however, the Badrians saw two female bonobos walking upright,
>in the water. They snatched handfuls of floadting dead
>leaves, picking out things to eat. After the apes noticed
>them and fled, the investigators themselves tried the
>technique. They disturbed many small fishes hiding beneath
>fallen leaves. Susman has observed that numerous the bonobo
>tracks along stream beds lack knucle prints."
>At this point, de Waal discusses Hardy's aquatic ape theory
>and points out that the part about hominid bipedalism may
>in fact have some merit.

So, when you do give us an example of primates in the
mood for a spot of bipedalism, you give us one that fits
the AAT. Interesting.

Pat Dooley