Most of us walk and carry things in our hands every day. These are seemingly simple activities that most of us don’t question. But an international team of researchers, including Brian Richmond of George Washington University, have found that human bipedalism, or standing walking, may have its origin millions of years ago as an adaptation to the transport of resources. rare and high quality. This latest research was published in the Current biology.
The team of researchers from the United States, England, Japan and Portugal studied the behavior of today’s chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, with the goal of understanding what ecological parameters would lead to a great ape – one that looks like the 6 million-year-old ancestor we shared with living chimpanzees – walking on two legs.
“These chimpanzees provide a model of the ecological conditions under which our early ancestors might have started walking on two legs,” said Dr. Richmond, study author and associate professor of anthropology at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at GW . “Something as simple as wearing – an activity we do every day – can, under the right conditions, have led to the upright walk and set our ancestors on a path apart from other apes that ultimately led to l origin of our species. “
Research results suggest that chimpanzees move on two limbs instead of four in situations where they must monopolize a resource, usually because it may not be abundant in their habitat, making it difficult for them to predict when they will. will see it. again. Standing on two legs allows them to carry a lot more at the same time as it frees their hands. Over time, intense surges of bipedal activity may have resulted in anatomical changes which in turn became the subject of natural selection where competition for food or other resources was strong.
Two studies were carried out by the team in Guinea. The first study took place in the “outdoor laboratory” of Kyoto University in a natural clearing in Bossou forest. Researchers have allowed wild chimpanzees to access different combinations of two types of nuts: the oil palm nut, which is naturally widely available, and the cola nut, which is not. The behavior of chimpanzees was followed in three situations: (a) when only oil palm nuts were available, (b) when a small number of coula nuts were available, and (c) when coula nuts were available. the main resource available.
When the rare coula nuts were only available in small numbers, chimpanzees carried more at once. Likewise, when coula nuts were the major resource, chimpanzees completely ignored oil palm nuts. Chimpanzees viewed coula nuts as a more valuable resource and fought for them more intensely.
In such high competition settings, the frequency of cases where chimpanzees began to move on two legs has increased fourfold. Not only was it evident that the bipedal movement allowed them to carry more of this precious resource, but also that they were actively trying to move as much as they could in one go using whatever was available, even their mouths.
The second study, carried out by Kimberley Hockings of the University of Oxford Brookes, was a 14-month study of the looting of the crops of Bossou chimpanzees, a situation in which they must compete for scarce and unpredictable resources. Here, 35% of chimpanzee activity involved some sort of bipedal movement, and again, this behavior seemed to be related to a clear attempt to carry as much as possible at once.
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