The GLP is committed to full transparency. Download and review our 2019 Annual Report

Fossilized ape pelvis suggests human ancestors walked upright much earlier than previously thought

| | October 10, 2019
rudapithecus pelvis fossil se p d ea aa e a c fb df b f fit w
A Rudapithecus pelvis fossil, center, overlain on a skeleton of a siamang, compared with a macaque on the left and orangutan on the right. Image: University of Missouri
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Scientists have long thought that humans evolved from an ape that moved about on all fours like a chimpanzee, and they’ve puzzled over how and when our distant ancestors came to walk on two feet.

A fossilized pelvis of Rudapithecus, a long-extinct relative of humans and modern apes, may hold the answer. New research on the fragmentary remains suggests that when the beagle-sized ape descended from the trees, she didn’t knuckle-walk like chimps or gorillas, as previously thought. Rather, she stood upright on two legs — much like a human.

“We’ve always asked, ‘Why did our lineage evolve? Why did we stand up from all fours?’ But Rudapithecus begs the question: ’Why did we never drop down on all fours in the first place?’” said Carol Ward, a professor of anatomy at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, and lead author of a paper about the research published Sept. 17 in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Related article:  2 million years ago, we lost this gene. That may be why humans are so prone to heart attacks

“It causes us to approach the fossil record and our understanding of our origins in a fundamentally different way than we ever have before,” she added. “It’s a game-changer. The textbooks now get to be rewritten.”

Read full, original post: Ancient ape fossil yields surprising new insights about human evolution

News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.

Send this to a friend