: Australopithecines, morphology and theories

  • Bronte Merrick Nixon

    Student thesis: Other thesis - CDU


    This thesis explores physical evidence from different parts of the anatomically modern human, australopithecine and chimpanzee bodies. Theories for the evolution of hominid bipedalism were also assessed with the aim of deciding why hominid bipedalism evolved.

    The evidence indicates that the earliest hominids had a unique style of locomotion that, although was bipedal, still included a substantial amount of arborealism. This retention of the tree-climbing ability is an important factor as physical evidence for it from the pelvis, femur, lower joints, ankle, foot, hand, backbone and inner ear, assists in rejecting several existing theories for the origin of hominid bipedalism. (Besides historical theories that have already been rejected.)

    It is suggested that hominid bipedalism evolved because of a combination of two factors. These were climatic and ecological changes during the Miocene, which then caused alterations to the distribution of food resources. Changed food distributions were therefore ultimately the cause of hominid bipedalism. Physiological considerations such as the thermoregulatory and energy efficiency of bipedalism are the advantages of the fact that bipedal locomotion allowed for efficient walking between patches of forest-type vegetation. Food was then obtained by climbing and moving within the branches of trees.

    It is concluded that bipedalism evolved not because of possible advantages, but because it allowed the retention of a locomotory style that included partial arborealism.
    Date of AwardNov 1995
    Original languageEnglish

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