The bowl-shaped human pelvis supports internal organs during upright walking. The human spine curves in an S shape that allows for upright posture. Human toes are aligned with each other and are much shorter than ape toes. Because humans are the only primates that have this foot structure, the shape of the human foot is likely an adaptation for bipedalism.
The larger brain and smaller jaw in modern humans result in a flatter face than that found in apes. The modern human brain has an average size of about 1,400 cm3 and the chimpanzee, about 400 cm3. Among other unique structures, the human brain has extensive areas that function in the production and understanding of speech. Apes have similar areas of their brains that function in communication, and apes can learn to mimic certain forms of human sign language. Apes living in the wild, however, do not use the complexity of signals found in human language.
Hominids include humans and extinct humanlike anthropoid species. Bipedalism is the distinguishing characteristic of this group. All other living anthropoid primates are quadrupedal, meaning they tend to walk on all four limbs. Apelike ancestors of the first hominids were probably also quadrupedal. How long ago did the first bipedal hominid evolve? And did human traits such as upright walking and a larger brain evolve together or at different times? Fossil evidence has provided some clues to the answers.
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