Re: Bi-paedalism and Hair loss connected.

Philip C Plumlee (
Fri, 20 Sep 1996 20:21:02 -0700

Reposting article removed by rogue canceller.

Mark Shuttleworth wrote:
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> Bi-paedalism
> Could loss of hair have led directly to Bi-paedalism? Adrienne L Zihlman
> and Bruce A Cohn in your Volume 82 Feb 1986 issue, in referring to loss of
> hair, and changed pigmentation of our ancestors; state "This complex of
> features, we propose, evolved along with other anatomical changes,
> especially Bi-paedal locomotion". As I shall demonstrate later, my theory
> of hair loss fits very well into this. The article of Mrs Eickhoff would
> seem to present problems. However I am satisfied this is not so , as she
> postulates Bi-paedalism in different forms and along different evolutionary
> lines. I probably makes thins easier for what I now suggest.
> This partially Bi-paedal mother, using a burgeoning reasoning, would have
> decided to place her child on her back at birth. The child would have clung
> to the hair of her head and attempted to grip something with its little
> feet, the soft tummy hair and soft tissues below the rib cage would have
> had no counter-part on the back completely hairless and firm as it would
> then have been. What was mother to do? The answer was to slip one arm freed
> from the need for walking behind her back and steady the little one's bare
> bottom therewith. If still holding her body horizontal, holding baby thus,
> would have been less easy than if more erect. This would not have
> completely solved her problem, unless she became or was already Bi-paedal,
> and either erect of more probably at that stage, only partly erect. One way
> or another at any rate, by this process some babies would have survived.
> That mother's problems were not over by any means! The little baby would
> not as easily have been carried in such a manner than in a completely erect
> position. Was she thus to be doomed to walking semi-erect for the rest of
> her evolutionary career? Then there was the further problem of the child
> defecating and urinating over its mother's back and upwards bent steadying
> arm. Much better to cradle the child against one's breast with one arm, and
> walk upright as women do to this very day. In this position, modern mothers
> find that the moment the child tenses itself to either defecate or urinate,
> ( and in fact do almost anything else, even turn and look at a stranger),
> they sense it. The child can then be held out, and the chances of becoming
> messed up, of the mother and of the child itself in fact are, are reduced.
> Having carried the baby for nine or so months, beneath her heart, she now
> cradles it against her breast, where it is warm and safe and close to it's
> food supply. Mother must now however walk erect, and learn to forage with
> one arm only. Long head hair, will still be useful, as it was when she held
> it on her back.
> G V G Shuttleworth

Dude - according to the PBS (BBC) show Nature, humans got hairless when
they became the best long-distance runners on the planet. After thumbs
and bipaedalism and before big brains. If they switched from carcasses
hunting live game, then the loss of hair might match the change from
Australopithecus to Homo Habilis. The former were scavengers who used
their free hands to carry rocks, dead things and babies, and the latter
hunted live game, right?