Foot fossils suggest when primates went bipedal

Researchers compared fossils to find a toe joint that indicates when primates started walking on two feet.

Adaptations for bipedal walking in primates occurred as early as 4.4 million years ago, according to new research.

The feet of primates function as grasping organs. But the adoption of bipedal locomotion—which reduces the ability to grasp—was a critical step in human evolution.

The new study finds that in the process of adapting to bipedal walking, early hominin feet may have retained some grasping ability.

foot fossils comparison
This illustration shows the metatarsal bones of various modern and fossil species analyzed in the forefoot study of ancient hominins. (Credit: Stony Brook U.)

Coauthor Carrie S. Mongle, a doctoral candidate in the interdepartmental doctoral program in Anthropological Sciences at Stony Brook University, explains that by studying and comparing the toe joint morphologies in fossil hominins, apes, monkeys, and humans, the researchers identified novel bony shape variables in the forefoot from both extinct to existent hominins that are linked to the emergence of bipedal walking.

The paper contains data that provide evidence for how and when the hominin pedal skeleton evolved to accommodate the unique biomechanical demands of bipedalism.

The findings also corroborate the importance of a bony morphology in hominins called the dorsal head expansion and “doming” of the metatarsal heads—essential for bipedalism and a unique feature that distinguished hominins from other primates.

The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the Leakey Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Founation supported the research.

Source: Stony Brook University

The post Foot fossils suggest when primates went bipedal appeared first on Futurity.

More from Futurity

Futurity4 min readScience
Enzyme In Blood Of Young Mice Slows Aging In Older Ones
Scientists have discovered a potential way to stave off the detrimental effects of aging, according to their research in mice. The study suggests that a protein that is abundant in the blood of young mice plays a vital role in keeping them healthy. W
Futurity3 min readPsychology
Adversity In Early Childhood Sets Off Snowball Effect
New research clarifies how adversity early in life affects the ways children develop, including their executive function skills. Experiences such as poverty, residential instability, or parental divorce or substance abuse can lead to changes in a chi
Futurity4 min readScience
How Siberian Hamsters Lose Half Their Weight Each Year
Siberian hamsters lose half their weight every winter. Scientists have now sequenced their DNA to figure out how. The Siberian hamster is a model organism for studying seasonal biological rhythms, researchers say. They breed during the spring and ear