Ever since Darwin , bipedal walking has been considered the defining feature of the human lineage. However, how and why this unique form of locomotion evolved remains the subject of considerable debate. In particular, debates over the origins and evolution of bipedalism revolve around whether early bipeds walked with energetically economical human-like extended limb biomechanics, or with more costly ape-like bent-knee, bent-hip (BKBH) kinematics . If early hominins used a BKBH gait, then we must account for the persistence of an energetically costly form of bipedal walking until the evolution of the genus Homo. The Laetoli footprints may help resolve this debate, since they record the footsteps of at least two, and possibly three individuals who walked bipedally across wet ashfall approximately 3.6 million years ago , . These prints represent the earliest direct evidence of bipedalism in the fossil record, yet no study to date has demonstrated exactly how these hominins walked.
- Laetoli Footprints Preserve Earliest Direct Evidence of Human-Like Bipedal Biomechanics
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