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Evolution of Human Bipedalism: Essay

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The Arboreal Ancestry
Recent research has proved to support the hypothesis that one of the hallmarks of human evolution, bipedalism, arose from an arboreal ancestry. As implied, the tree-living ancestor was to have a benefited from a bipedal gait through aided mobility throughout the tree network (Thorpe et. al., 2007). In addition, the use of the upper body in the arboreal ancestor would be helpful in foraging (Stanford 2006). The importance of the arboreal ancestor hypotheses is their relation to the lower body development towards a bipedal posture and gait.

Orangutan Navigation: An Arboreal Hypothesis
As proposed by Thorpe et. al. the importance of unlimited mobility within the canopies provides a selective pressure for the evolution of bipedalism (2007). The basis of the study not only addresses increased mobility, but also increased stability on less stable branches (Thorpe et. al. 2007). Thorpe et. al. proposes that the increased stability on less stable branches is positively correlated to increased mobility (2007). Orangutans exhibit this correlation through their ability to access a wide variety of branches with the aid of the upper limbs (Thorpe et. al. 2007). The study found that 75% of all biped activity individuals would use hands for additional support (Thorpe et. al. 2007). Furthermore, Thorpe et. al. found that 90% of bipedal bouts occurred while supporting with extended hind-limb posture (Thorpe et. al. 2007). Thorpe et. al. evidence proves bipedal posture is widely used as a mechanism of support (2007). A mechanism of support in this case would act as a selective pressure for stability, thus making the bipedal trait a form of stabilizing selection (Thorpe et. al. 2007). Additionally Thorpe et. al. states that...


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...nford C. 2006. “Arboreal Bipedalism in Wild Chimpanzees: Implications for the Evolution of Hominid Posture and Locomotion”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 129:225-231.
6. Schwartz J. 2007. “The Origins of Human Bipedalism”. Science Magazine. 318: 1065.
7. Thorpe S, Holder R, Crompton R. 2007. “Origin of Human Bipedalism As an Adaptation for Locomotion on Flexible Branches”. Science Magazine. 316:1328-1331.
8. Thorpe S, Holder R, Crompton R. 2007. “Response to ‘The Origins of Human Bipedalism’”. Science Magazine. 318: 1065.
9. Videan E, McGrew WC. 2002. “Bipedality in Chimpanzee (Pan trolodytes) and Bonobo (Pan paniscus): Testing Hypotheses on the Evolution of Bipedalism”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 118: 184-190.
10. Williams S. 2010. “Morphological integration and the evolution of knuckle-walking”. Journal of Human Evolution. 58: 432-440.


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