Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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New Thoughts on the Shift to Bipedalism

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

YORK, ENGLAND—Rugged terrain caused by volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts may have forced the development of bipedalism in South Africa, rather than climate change and a resulting loss of trees, according to new research conducted by a team led by Isabelle Winder of the University of York. The scientists suspect that the rocky outcrops and gorges would have offered shelter from predators and made hunting easier. “It is to your advantage if you can balance on just two or three limbs and use the others to steady yourself,” she added. Grasping rocks while climbing may have also contributed to the evolution of hands and the cognitive abilities needed for eventual tool making.