What preadaptations enable us to run bipedally? Try running any other way & it becomes patently obvious. Presenters in the graduate Principles of Physical Anthropology course challenged us to engage in a relay race as chimp-like knuckle-walkers, then our own obligate biped selves (thank gawd!). The objective? Our termite fishing stick & a juicy “termite” (or beetle stand-in).
There were two teams of five players each.
We took turns knuckle-walking as best we could…
…to retrieve our digging sticks.
Then we knucklewalked to the termite mound & scored some dinner & raced back.
And we finished class with an exercise in classificatory fossil sorting…with broken boy soldiers…
For real though, based on the scant remnants recovered, in some cases only the barrel of what appears to be a gun, we classified Australopithecus riflecus…you get the point. This would really give Paul Bingham & Joanne Souza some ammunition for their “death from a distance” unifying theory of human cooperation! Hey, I’m here all week!
And finally we talked about how to recognize us as bipeds even when we’re not around & don’t leave our shell casings behind.
In Tanzania, Mary Leakey found evidence of us that looked like this. Wow, our footprints really are similar. Look at some of those toe gaps (toe diastemas?)!