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Study reveals man’s rocky road to upright walking

The rugged landscape created by volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts in east and south Africa millions of years ago may be what prompted our human ancestors to start walking on two legs, a study said Friday.

world Updated: May 25, 2013 00:04 IST

The rugged landscape created by volcanic eruptions and tectonic plate shifts in east and south Africa millions of years ago may be what prompted our human ancestors to start walking on two legs, a study said Friday.

The research published in the journal Antiquity challenges the commonly-held theory that early hominins (members of the broad human family) were forced onto two feet on the ground because climate change reduced the number of trees they lived in.

According to the new hypothesis, it is not why they left the forests, but where they went, that explains the evolution.

“Our research shows that bipedalism may have developed as a response to the terrain, rather than a response to climatically-driven vegetation changes,” study co-author Isabelle Winder from the University of York’s archaeology department said.

Between six and two million years ago, our ancestors lived exclusively in Africa — mainly in the east and south where much tectonic activity happened.