For many people it’s still a mystery how prehistoric man could move around on two legs. But apparently the first walks didn’t happen by chance: they were invented in order to carry something with two hands.
A chance discovery in Ethiopia (East Africa) is providing clues about the origins of walking and upright posture. It seems that we humans started striding across the world’s surface not without a reason.
At this site in Ethiopia a 3.4 million year old hominid pelvis was found, which already had adaptations for bipedal locomotion: the ilium bone has an elongated and somewhat expanded upper section, while the ischium at its back is short and thick.
History of walking
The pelvis was 3.4 million years old and for a long time it was believed that the first true walkers evolved from apes only 2 to 3 million years ago. However, this new find proves that bipedal locomotion must have emerged much earlier than we thought. This shift in the evolution timeline has been revealed by a study published in the journal eLife.
The research was led by Liza Shapiro of The University of Texas at Austin . Using 3D scanning, she reconstructed how this pelvis would have looked in real life. Scientists now believe that walking upright could be far older than previously believed – and it may even date back to our last common ancestor with chimpanzees: “the pelvic shape in australopithecines, such as the famous Lucy skeleton, is unique among primates and humans.”
She said that while chimps can walk upright to carry things with both hands, such behavior has never been observed in modern humans (Homo sapiens). This means our ancestors must have started walking on two legs to free up their hands.
The study provides further evidence that Lucy and her fellow australopithecines were not simply upright versions of chimps, as some scientists believe: the pelvis suggests they were already beginning to walk on two legs, rather than just use them for balance or extra height when needed.
In conclusion Liza Shapiro suggest that the pelvis may have served to protect reproductive organs or assist with balance during upright walking.
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Who was the first one to walk?
The answer to that question is still unclear. The oldest footprints found in Kenya are dated at 5 million years old (myo) and were made by an early ancestor of modern humans. However, new discoveries indicate the tracks might be more than 3 myo old, which would make them significantly older than any other hominin prints known until now.
How did they make it? First, I must tell you there’s some controversy about this fossil footprint site (Gombore I-1). Some of the scientists thinks these tracks are not real but others think they’re real.
Even if we say this trackway is real, the age of the human who left his/her feet impression on Earth is uncertain yet because there’s no fossils associated with the prints. But, if these prints are real and they really were created by a human ancestor, this would mean that early humans walked upright much earlier than we thought before.
Not only the age is uncertain, but also who made these footprints? Most of the researchers say it’s Australopithecus afarensis (like Lucy), but others think it could be Ardipithecus ramidus or Kenyanthropus platyops instead.
We know that both A. afarensis and K. platyops walk bipedally so it’s very hard to say which one left his/her first footprints on Earth because there could be some other hominin species walking around at this time too.
One of the most popular theories is that our ancestors evolved from chimpanzees between 6 to 8 million years ago. But this new find proves that bipedal locomotion must have emerged much earlier than we thought. This shift in the evolution timeline was revealed by a study published in the journal eLife.
When was walking invented first?
1.9 million years ago, according to a study in 2012 that revealed fossilized footprints of early ancestors in Kenya. [Source: “Paleoanthropologists Find Earliest Evidence Of Modern Human-Like Gait”, ScienceDaily (July 10, 2012)]
No one knows for sure who was the first person to leave some footprints behind while walking on the earth but evidence indicates that this human trait of modern locomotion goes back at least some 1.9 million years.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Matthew Bennett , professor in the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Britain’s University of Leicester , has discovered fossilized footprints believed to be from an early human ancestor living some 1.9 million years ago in East Africa.
Who invented speed walking?
The first person to use the term ‘speed walking’ was a Tokyo-based company named Kogal, also known as Gal’s Corp, which has been organizing international speed walking competitions since 1995.
In Japan, where the phenomenon originated from, however, people often refer to it as ‘power standing’. In general terms, power standing is distinguished by its high leg turnover and lean posture. It can be applied on flat surfaces for extended periods of time without putting strain on the lower back or front of the body.
Speed walkers maintain an upright posture with their arms close to their bodies and swing them in unison with each step. This dynamic style of movement is different from that of runners who tend to lengthen their strides and expend more energy when covering long distances.
As speed walking gains in popularity, more people seem to be entering competitions around the world and there are plenty of videos on YouTube showing different techniques.