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May 19, 2011

Fashionable bipedalism

Filed under: Bipedal,Genetics,Genomics,Human Evolution — Razib Khan @ 12:12 pm

There’s a new story blowing up in the media about the origins of bipedalism through male-male competition. The hook is good enough that the headlines write themselves. For example, io9 has a sober and skeptical review of the paper, but the title is naturally going to be more excitement inducing: Did early humans start standing upright so they could beat each other up? And I’m not going to get into what British tabloids are saying about this. This is a sexy story, I can’t really blame anyone. The original research is in PLoS ONE, so read it yourself, The Advantage of Standing Up to Fight and the Evolution of Habitual Bipedalism in Hominins. The conclusion is short and sweet: These results indicate that bipedal posture does provide a performance advantage for striking with the forelimbs. The mating systems of great apes are characterized by intense male-male competition in which conflict is resolved through force or the threat of force. Great apes often fight from bipedal posture, striking with both the fore- and hindlimbs. These observations, plus the findings of this study, suggest that sexual selection contributed to ...

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