|Study by University of York's archaeology department reveals man's rocky road to upright walking|
Schematic showing the substantial similarities in broad pattern and differences in relative timings between the histories proposed by several vegetation-based theories of hominin evolutionary environments and the complex topography hypothesis.
PARIS (AFP).- The rugged landscape created by volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts in east and south Africa millions of years ago may be what prompted our human ancestors to start walking on two legs, a study said Friday.
The research published in the journal Antiquity challenges the commonly-held theory that early hominins (members of the broad human family) were forced onto two feet on the ground because climate change reduced the number of trees they lived in.
According to the new hypothesis, it is not why they left the forests, but where they went, that explains the evolution.
"Our research shows that bipedalism may have developed as a response to the terrain, rather than a response to climatically-driven vegetation changes," study co-author Isabelle Winder from the University of York's archaeology department said.
Between six and two million years ago, our ancestors lived exclusively in Africa -- mainly in the east and south where much tectonic activity happened.
Winder and her team compared geological changes with evolution of hominin anatomy over millions of years, and concluded it was likely that our early tree-living ancestors were attracted not to flat plains as widely thought, but rocky outcrops and gorges.
These would have offered shelter from predators and made it easier to corner pray.
But rugged terrain also required more upright scrambling and climbing gaits -- prompting the emergence of bipedalism.
"For an animal moving on rough ground, the land is made up of lots of small, broken surfaces at different heights and angles. If you use four limbs to carry your weight, the chances are higher that you will be unable to position yourself effectively or that one of your hands or feet will slip," Winder told AFP by email.
"It is to your advantage if you can balance on just two or three limbs and use the others to steady yourself."
Thus our ancestors' legs came to carry most of their weight, and their hands would have been used to stabilise and pull the body up rock faces and would have become better at grasping as a result -- ultimately enabling the evolutionary leap to tool-making.
"The varied terrain may also have contributed to improved cognitive skills such as navigation and communication abilities," said Winder.
She said the finding answers a question that has stumped scientists for decades: how did our ancestors survive the many predators of Africa when they moved from the trees to the ground?
As it turns out, the rugged terrain where they emerged made it easier to hide.
The move to flatter ground probably only started a few million years later, said Winders.
"This study is the first to successfully explain how our ancestors lived during this period and why they evolved as they did," she said.
© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse
May 29, 2013
Zhang Daqian's 'Lotus' fetches $10.4 million at Christie's Fine Chinese Modern Paintings Sale
Mexican archaeologists discover eight archaeological sites south of Mexicali, Baja California
Israel Museum restitutes Impressionist masterpiece by German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann
The polka dot queen of avant-garde art, Yayoi Kusama opens first-ever exhibition in Vietnam
Study by University of York's archaeology department reveals man's rocky road to upright walking
First solo exhibition in the United States of noted Brazilian painter Paulo Laport opens at Edelman Arts
MacDougall's announces Russian paintings, works on paper, icons and works of art sale
Art gift to Pérez Art Museum Miami by Mimi and Bud Floback grows to nearly 30 major works
City of Oslo reaches deal on new, futuristic crooked glass building to house Munch Museum
Frick Art & Historical Center announces multi-phase building and renovation project
"Prized and Played: Highlights from the Jon Crumiller Collection" opens at the World Chess Hall of Fame
The Johnny Cash Museum immortalizes the Man in Black for downtown Nashville
Akron Art Museum board appoints Mark Masuoka Executive Director and CEO
Earliest form of photography comes to the Taft Museum of Art
Definitive painting by one of the great Scottish female artists to be auctioned
World Museum opens its gateway to India in new exhibition
Cincinnati Art Museum acquires Georgia O'Keeffe painting
San Antonio unveils its largest work of public art
Gold coin treasure from prominent French champagnery highlights June auction at Bonhams
Experts restore ancient Egyptian relic after vandalism
Most Popular Last Seven Days
1.- Ancient erotic frescoes get makeover at the Contemporary Art Museum in Casoria
2.- One million dollar Pablo Picasso painting yours for just $135 in online charity raffle
3.- Robert L. Oswald, Brother of Lee Harvey Oswald Disputes Last Week's Sale of Coffin
4.- Australian psychedelic artist Martin Sharp, who designed posters for Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, dies
5.- Skull find shows young women were sacrificed in China more than 4,000 years ago
6.- Istanbul monastery, considered the most important of Constantinople, 'to be turned into mosque'
7.- Detroit Institute of Arts statement regarding City of Detroit's eligibility to file for bankruptcy
8.- Christie's sets a new world auction record for a painting by Edward Hopper
9.- Ryan O'Neal defends taking ex-lover's Warhol picture in University of Texas lawsuit
10.- French film and installation artist Laure Prouvost wins Great Britain's Turner prize
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|