The feet by MC
I do not know why I woke up this morning thinking about the bipedalism before the larger brain question.The point is I did and hence I might as well deal with it.
One of the great debates of anthropology has been the now settled question whether bipedalism predates brain evolution. This is notwithstanding that one is everyday confronted by bipeds who seemed to prove the reverse to be the case. Today’s post is written only so that I can use my very early putdown that goes—You conclusively prove that bipedalism indeed came before the brain. But I digress.
It is now widely accepted that our ancestors had to become bipedal in order for us to eventually emerge as the dominant species. Unless two of our four limbs were freed up some five million years ago as an evolutionary response to do other tasks including build tools and improve our diet for nourishing our brains better, it is almost certain we would still be knuckle-charging our way to work, picking berries and eating ants crawling on fallen tree branches for breakfast, not that there is anything wrong with any of that. Sometimes one looks around the world and wants to devolve into that primal life. Try knuckle-charging with a fully evolved brain and see how harrowing it is. But I digress.
There were scientists who believed that the brain evolved and became larger before we became bipedal, but from what I have read that is no longer the accepted scientific wisdom. As Charles Darwin wrote in ‘Descent of Man, And Selection Relation to Sex’, "If it be an advantage to man to stand firmly on his feet and to have his arms free . . . then I can see no reason why it should not have been advantageous to the progenitors of man to have be come more erect or bipedal." The reference “more erect” has nothing to do with erections lasting four hours. So do not call your doctor if you have been able to walk erect longer than four hours. But I digress.
As we all well know while bipedalism may well have been the single most defining change whose benefits we are enjoying millions of years down the line, it has also led to our species perfecting technology to such an extent that we do not really need it to socialize (A case in point? Facebook) and to kill (A case in point? The drones). It was not until the rise of Homo erectus some 1.8 million years ago that scientists say bipedalism became fully efficient. Incidentally, Homo erectus is not the title of a gay porn movie which President Barack Obama endorsed. But I digress.
Bipedalism, for those still on all fours, is walking on two feet. But for those still on all fours, accessing the internet and finding this blog to read is too far in the future.