Re: Dissecting the Aquatic Ape: Bipedalism

Stephen Barnard (
Wed, 31 Jul 1996 13:34:49 -0800


> My understanding is that hominid evolution was quite rapid as the
> evolution of species go. However, I was unaware that the rapidity of that
> change was a possible argument for it being behavorially caused. My
> understanding of chimpanzees is that they have the rudiments of a culture
> and that the culture can change from group to group. If our distant
> ancestors had cultures too, isn't trying to predict the behavorial basis
> of their speciation very, very, problematic?
> If, however, we assume that hominid evolution occured as the result of some
> learned behavior, then that event should probably be something that was
> discovered accidentally and perpetuated through imiation and teaching. It
> would have to become a part of the new culture. To me, the question of
> bipedalism is a question of what changes in protohominid culture caused
> bipedalism (and other structural changes that occured near this time) to
> be a successful survival strategy.

There is a well known idea in evolutionary theory called the Baldwin
Effect. The basic idea is that the ability to learn can dramatically
speed up evolution -- not only the evolution of learning, but also the
evolution of other characteristics, including morphological

Perhaps the presumably "hyper" learning ability of protohumans can
explain the very rapid evolution of hominids due to the Baldwin

Steve Barnard