It is pretty fascinating how our body changes over the years and hard to believe that humans were not always able to walk upright on two feet. The human remains of the ape `Udo´ were found in 2016 in the Allgäu mountain region of Bavaria, Germany. Some scientists believe these bones show more similarities to upright walking humans than to other apes. This would provide evidence for the existence of anthropoid apes about 12 million years ago, making Udo the oldest known ape species with these bipedal characteristics. But how did the process of the upright walk begin?
There are a lot of theories. Natural conditions changed and the great apes had to adapt to new habitats and new challenges. Apes which had been mainly living in trees were forced to adapt to life on the plains in a new savanna environment.
The most well-known theories are:
According to this theory, as the environment changed and our hominoid ancestors moved down from the trees and onto the plain of the Savanna, upright walking became advantageous for apes because they could look out over far distances and spot danger from far away. This better vantage point gave them more time to find safe places to hide or the chance to sneak up on their potential predators.
This theory claims that the increased solar radiation on the apes’ body whould have caused them to stand up. In order to protect their body from overheating apes started to walk upright. Now their torso had more distance from the hot ground ground anda smaller part of their body wasexposed to the sun. The wind would also have had a greater cooling effect in this upright position.
This theory asserts that apes had to use their hands to build and use tools. Logically, having their hands free to be able to do this would be an advantage. It is debated whether better tool making was the cause or effect of upright walking.
Basically this theory says that we evolved to walk upright because it allowed our early ancestors to cover farther distances as the food supply was scattered over far areas.
Similar to the Tool-Hypothesis, this theory has to do with the advantage of having hands free to collect and carry food. Having hands free while walking upright would have enabled our ape ancestors to carry food to their familly members over large distances. However, this hypothesis is also debated because it could likely be an advantageous effect, rather than the cause, of upright walking.
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