Researchers studying the bones of "Lucy" — the human ancestor who lived in Africa over three million years ago — claim that she walked differently than modern humans do:

She had the same bones in her feet as modern humans. The difference is that many of the human foot bones are fused, but not Lucy's. She had to rely on muscle to stabilize the bones for efficient walking and standing, causing her fatigue humans don't experience.

Walking upright was perhaps the most important step — pardon the pun — in human evolution. Evidence shows that 14 million years ago, African forests began to shrink. Some apes, including our ancestors, were forced to live on the newly-expanding savannahs, where walking upright was an advantage. Once they were on their own two feet, their hands were free for tool use. And tool use encouraged brain development, which led to modern humans.

*A reference to the song by The Four Seasons, and NOT that other song.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

right on!

posted on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 1:46pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Or like a WOMAN, since Lucy, our "index case," is female...

Something about the explanation that bipedalism and tool use made us human has never sat right with me. It may be true, and I totally believe that Lucy was our ancestor, but I always feel like a big piece of the puzzle is missing. Maybe it's because animals from chimps to crows have been observed using tools. And because it's faster to run on four feet, or even three, than it is to run on two. So it's hard to imagine that poor Lucy, menaced by predators out on the savannahs, wouldn't just drop her pebble tools and run, you know?

I'd love to get a physical anthropologist to weigh in...

posted on Thu, 03/09/2006 - 2:47pm

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