Re: Bipedalism

J. Moore (
Fri, 19 May 95 11:16:00 -0500

Cf> iboothby@Direct.CA (Iboothby) writes:

Cf> > I was always under the assumption that bipedalism was convienient
Cf> not
Cf> >for helping early australios to see further but provided a way to cover
Cf> >ground at a farily leasury pase. Humans seen ideally adapted for
Cf> covering
Cf> >a lot of distance in their feet. Our ansestors seemed to migrate a lot,
Cf> >they travelled and explored places. I couldn't imagine a chimp walking
Cf> >across a savanna, covering a lot of distance the way a human would.

Cf> How about a baboon troop?
Cf> [Sorry, but argument from incredulity is hard to resist]
Cf> --
Cf> -Clara A. N. Fitzgerald

This is a good point, and I'd just like to add a couple things to it.
One is the point I was making in another post about there being *many*
reasons that bipedalism is useful, and for which it is in fact used by
even non-human primates, so the way Iboothby put it, "not for...but"
(remember the JC Whitney auto parts catalog with the little pictures
captioned "Not this, but this"?) presents a dichotomy when there surely
wasn't one. Bipedalism was good for *both* seeing further *and* covering
ground (and while carrying, not to mention while gathering food, while
getting food from higher branches than could be reached while sitting,
for displays, etc.). No need to present the dichotomy at all.

The other is that indeed, savannah dwelling baboons, do travel (more
than forect dwelling varieties at least). But the whole concept of long
distance travel, and especially the word migration, gets overplayed.
Generally, primates don't really go all that far. Alison Jolly gives
some figures for baboons which show the arid country types, like
Hamadryas baboons, have a day range of 13.4 km. (and patas monkeys can
get up close to that range). They do so because they have to. And
hominids were no doubt capable of doing similar ranging, when they had
to. But even for our (later) world-wide migrations, we didn't need to
travel fast or far. To get from Africa to Indonesia in the blink of an
eye (say 10,000 years -- virtually invisible in the million plus year
old fossil record) would require little more than standing upright and
falling forward flat on your face once a day, each day putting your
feet where your nose hit.

Jim Moore (

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