Researchers from the Departments of Biological Sciences and Anthropology at Dartmouth College published new research on December 31, 2012, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that questions a long held theory that bipedalism and the morphology that accompanies bipedalism destined early man’s ancestors to a completely land based lifestyle.
The researchers observed the Twa hunter-gatherers to their agriculturalist neighbors, the Bakiga, in Uganda, and the Agta hunter-gatherers and Manobo agriculturalists in the Philippines, and found that these peoples have the ability to literally walk up trees.
The unique climbing ability is the result of an adaptation of the lengths of gastrocnemius muscle fibers - the large calf muscles. Longer leg muscles allow the extremes of flexibility exhibited in the tree climbers.
The bone structure of all four groups of people studied are the same as industrialized men and Australopithecus afarensis - the first modern man ancestor known to date.
This research indicates that early man and may have inhabited the trees and the land in order to garner the most food possible. The adaptation in the four groups of peoples studied is strictly for food gathering purposes.
Thus another long held theory that Australopithecus afarensis was solely a land dweller bites the dust.
The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website the date of publication.
Vivek V. Venkataraman a,1, Thomas S. Kraft a, and Nathaniel J. Dominy a,b,1
Departments of a Biological Sciences and b Anthropology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755