Thursday, 20 August 2009

Darwinian Dispute on Man’s First Steps

T. H. Huxley, known as Darwin’s Bulldog, thought this was how ape-like creatures learned to walk on two feet. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A recent study on the wrist bones of chimpanzees and other apes purports to solve a long-standing Darwinian conundrum, viz. the origin of bipedalism. The findings, published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that previous models should be re-evaluated.

The dispute on how we learnt to walk upright on two feet has been brewing since the days of Charles Darwin. Some believe that apes rose up to walk on two feet. Others, however, think that apes came down from trees and began using their feet.

The researchers, led by Tracy Kivell, compared the wrist bones of 91 gorillas, 104 chimpanzees and 43 bonobos. They found traits that they interpreted as supporting knuckle walking in only six per cent of the gorillas. But 96 per cent of the chimpanzees and 76 per cent of bonobos had some of these traits.

According to, the recent study challenges the view that humans must have evolved their upright walking from a knuckle-walking ancestor. It also suggests that knuckle-walking evolved at least two times.

Seen in a critical light, this study does not disclose anything about human development. An ape has so long hands that they will prevent it from running upright. They could hardly be used for writing a blog, either.

And feet differ even more. An ape’s feet look like hands. However, a Darwinist wants to believe that these differences are not essential.

P.S. The researchers would do well to take a look at how some other simians, such as the Vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops), use their feet. No Darwinist will claim that they are our cousins but they do occasionally stand on two feet.


Physorg. com. 2009. Bipedal humans came down from the trees, not up from the ground. (10 August)