Re: An alternative to ST and AAT

Robert Gotschall (
Fri, 08 Nov 1996 19:30:10 -0800

Tom Clarke wrote:

> Still, I wonder why a bipedal varient of the bears did not arise.
> Bears seem to me to be pretty versatile in their use of limbs,
> like primates.
> Of course implicit in my question is the idea that human-style
> bipedalism was not dependent on other factors - like intelligence.
> However, the fossil record seems to show that Australopithecenes
> were pretty much bipedal chimpanzees (may I speak loosely?).
> Australopithecenes were far closer to modern human gait, than to
> modern human brain capacity.

It seems to me that only the primate group was capable of fully
exploiting bipedal locomotion. There is no great speed advantage to
bipedalism. I have worked with chimps in a zoo. I have no doubt I
could eventually outwalk one over flat terrain, but if your talking
about a quick dash to the nearest tree, the chimp would win hands down.
If your going to give up that kind of advantage it must be worth it,
from the very beginning. Many studies have shown that chimps recognize
the value of tools and weapons. Chimps however, lose one of their
-legs- while carrying something, in effect are partly crippled.
Hominds, though probably slower then chimps, were not so severely
disabled. I think hands may have been the impetuous for the continued
refinement of bipedalism

About the Australopithecenes, I recall reading that they could have been
superior bipeds compared to modern humans, because the females had
narrower hips. They didn't need the wider hips of modern women because
their infants had much smaller skulls, as you say they were basically
bipedal chimps. I have heard nothing further on this however.