When We First Walked

  • Published: 12 September 2018
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    Fossilized footprints have proved that human ancestors were already striding across the landscape 3.6 million years ago. But who started them on that path? What species pioneered this style of locomotion? Who was the first to walk?

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    Dericquebourg, P., Person, A., Ségalen, L., Pickford, M., Senut, B., & Fagel, N. (2015). Environmental significance of Upper Miocene phosphorites at hominid sites in the Lukeino Formation (Tugen Hills, Kenya). Sedimentary Geology, 327, 43-54.
    Thorpe, S. K., McClymont, J. M., & Crompton, R. H. (2014). The arboreal origins of human bipedalism. Antiquity, 88(341), 906-914.
    Harcourt-Smith, W. H. (2010). The first hominins and the origins of bipedalism. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 3(3), 333-340.
    Brunet, M., Guy, F., Pilbeam, D., Lieberman, D. E., Likius, A., Mackaye, H. T., ... & Vignaud, P. (2005). New material of the earliest hominid from the Upper Miocene of Chad. Nature, 434(7034), 752.
    Richmond, B. G., & Jungers, W. L. (2008). Orrorin tugenensis femoral morphology and the evolution of hominin bipedalism. Science, 319(5870), 1662-1665.
    Begun, D. R. (2004). The earliest hominins--is less more?. Science, 303(5663), 1478-1480.
    Lovejoy, C. O., Latimer, B., Suwa, G., Asfaw, B., & White, T. D. (2009). Combining prehension and propulsion: the foot of Ardipithecus ramidus. Science, 326(5949), 72-72e8.
    Lovejoy, C. O., Suwa, G., Spurlock, L., Asfaw, B., & White, T. D. (2009). The pelvis and femur of Ardipithecus ramidus: the emergence of upright walking. Science, 326(5949), 71-71e6.
    White, T. D., Suwa, G., & Asfaw, B. (1994). Australopithecus ramidus, a new species of early hominid from Aramis, Ethiopia. Nature, 371(6495), 306.
    Leakey, M. G., Feibel, C. S., McDougall, I., & Walker, A. (1995). New four-million-year-old hominid species from Kanapoi and Allia Bay, Kenya. Nature, 376(6541), 565.
    White, T. D., WoldeGabriel, G., Asfaw, B., Ambrose, S., Beyene, Y., Bernor, R. L., ... & Hart, W. K. (2006). Asa Issie, Aramis and the origin of Australopithecus. Nature, 440(7086), 883.
    Masao, F. T., Ichumbaki, E. B., Cherin, M., Barili, A., Boschian, G., Iurino, D. A., ... & Manzi, G. (2016). New footprints from Laetoli (Tanzania) provide evidence for marked body size variation in early hominins. elife, 5, e19568.
    Almécija, S., Tallman, M., Alba, D. M., Pina, M., Moyà-Solà, S., & Jungers, W. L. (2013). The femur of Orrorin tugenensis exhibits morphometric affinities with both Miocene apes and later hominins. Nature Communications, 4, 2888.
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 766

  • Cam RSR
    Cam RSR  1 days back

    Hey hot stuff!

    • TheGreatestShenFan
      TheGreatestShenFan  6 days back

      Walking was invented by Thomas Walking when he tried to stand twice at the same time

      • Wouter de ruiter
        Wouter de ruiter  1 weeks back

        so walking upright came before developing smarts? shouldn't come as a surprise. I know plenty of people who walk upright, but never developed intelligence.

        • daysmo
          daysmo  3 weeks back

          If only I had arches ,I’d be able to walk upright as well

          • indighoul
            indighoul  3 weeks back

            i saw those volcanic footprints in the natural history museum in london a few days ago

            edit: a lot of these bones/fossils can be found in the natural history museum

            • mille
              mille  3 weeks back

              Chimpanzes Wall on 2 legs

              • Alexandra Bryngelsson
                Alexandra Bryngelsson  4 weeks back

                F. Engels were the first person that talked about the necessity of freeing the hand for our brains to grow. In 1876 he wrote"The Part played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man"


                • oldcowbb
                  oldcowbb  4 weeks back

                  my anatomy is designed to seat on computer chair

                  • marc verhaegen
                    marc verhaegen  1 months back

                    :-( Obsolete. Unfortunately a missed opportunity.
                    For a serious (biological) answer, google
                    "ape and human evolution made easy 2018 Verhaegen"

                    • Felix Philippe
                      Felix Philippe  3 weeks back

                      lol, thanks marc. is your article peer reviewed by any chance?

                  • King ZERO
                    King ZERO  1 months back

                    Pan troglodyte

                    • Satan Lucifer
                      Satan Lucifer  1 months back


                      • Gordon Daniel
                        Gordon Daniel  1 months back

                        Perhaps they were looking over the Savannah grass for predators. Those that couldn't see them coming were eaten.

                        • Snowcial
                          Snowcial  2 months back

                          Please do a video on the aquatic ape hypothesis

                          • David Baldock
                            David Baldock  2 months back

                            Humans aren’t the only bipedal mammals. Kangaroos are bipedal too.

                          • Severn Owens
                            Severn Owens  2 months back

                            Best job of covering the whole history of
                            “us apes” since.losing “those apes”.

                            • Russ Carr
                              Russ Carr  2 months back

                              Letting the cat out the bag 💼 finally

                              • sSplitty GD
                                sSplitty GD  2 months back

                                I just watched a curiosity stream ad right before this video!
                                It was about the "first man," and I thought it was a coincidence that it was on this video about the first steps for humans.
                                Guess not :)

                                • Stefan Stanciu
                                  Stefan Stanciu  2 months back

                                  The current name of us is homo sapiens sapiens(twice as intelligent man) not homo sapiens(intelligent man)

                                  • Grow Someplace
                                    Grow Someplace  2 months back

                                    What if walking through water and bogs during rainy seasons was the deciding factor of walking on 2 legs and having less hair, and in fact hair that is streamlined to waterflow, not just sticking out like on apes. Perhaps being able to gather food in the water would give a major advantage to a species. Just 5000 years ago there were huge lakes in north africa, and no desert.

                                    • Phillip Scharf
                                      Phillip Scharf  2 months back

                                      That was a bit disappointing, the savannah hypothesis has been dead for years; bring on the Waterside Ape THEORY

                                    • Mike Ayala
                                      Mike Ayala  2 months back

                                      Should do a video on when humans first began wearing clothes

                                      • Robert Allen
                                        Robert Allen  2 months back

                                        The Savannah hypothesis has been almost entirely debunked. You know what model explains all of the quirks of the human animal with a single circumstance? The Aquatic Ape Theory.

                                        Occam's Razor, either dozens of circumstances precipitated dozens of anatomical differences in ways we have never seen in the animal kingdom, or, our ancestors got stranded on an island and all of our quirks occurred due to wading for food, as seen in all other aquatic and semi-aquatic animals.

                                        • Felix Philippe
                                          Felix Philippe  3 weeks back

                                          @Enya Feckenham yeah, this bloke's a classic armchair theorist. AAT is pretty much pseudoscience.

                                        • Enya Feckenham
                                          Enya Feckenham  2 months back

                                          @Robert Allen okidoki

                                        • Robert Allen
                                          Robert Allen  2 months back

                                          @Enya Feckenham Google "Aquatic Ape Theory" and have some fun swimming around the flood of content.

                                        • Enya Feckenham
                                          Enya Feckenham  2 months back

                                          That sounds really cool! Do you have anywhere i could go for further reading

                                      • Robert Allen
                                        Robert Allen  2 months back

                                        After 2 billion years of oceanic life, why are our oceans not teeming with life? Fresh water lakes can be saturated with algae, plants, and hundreds of species of animals, yet oceans in many parts of the world are vacuous of macroscopic life. We don't ever see miles-wide mats of plants converting sunlight into food. Why?

                                        • Felix Philippe
                                          Felix Philippe  3 weeks back

                                          i dOn'T KnOw rObErT, wHy DoN't YoU tElL uS

                                      • DARTH DAFFYD
                                        DARTH DAFFYD  2 months back

                                        Sooo .. a small brained animal walking on two legs = human ancestor?
                                        Obviously need to show more respect for my dog Butch :p

                                        • Mico Lim
                                          Mico Lim  2 months back

                                          Mabye, just mabye, Austriopalithicus Afarensis Started walking, then siversified, discovered fire, and then, BIG BRAIN TIME!

                                          • mysticoversoul
                                            mysticoversoul  2 months back

                                            Thank you very much for the measured cadence of your narration. It is perfect for your video presentation.

                                            • Wojciech Lewenstam
                                              Wojciech Lewenstam  2 months back

                                              You have omitted discovery form Trachilos.There is a trackway from a time roughly corresponiding with Messinian Event.
                                              This discovery was made by my friends.

                                              • John Flanagan
                                                John Flanagan  2 months back

                                                Do you have a video about how our hands became so dexterous?

                                              • Vinjer Hua
                                                Vinjer Hua  2 months back

                                                Hey PBS eons! First, thanks again for the amazing video!
                                                Is it possible for next human vid to be on a case study on homo floriensis?

                                                • Darius G.
                                                  Darius G.  2 months back

                                                  Im astonished by how we can tell facial features just by looking at footprints. Science is awesome!

                                                  • Seung Choe
                                                    Seung Choe  2 months back

                                                    Great vid, Eons Team!

                                                    Can this lead into a series on the major evolutionary tuns that lead into humans?

                                                    • Teej 1000
                                                      Teej 1000  2 months back

                                                      Any idea why we lack the body hair of our simian siblings? Maybe giving us the ability to loose heat whilst running, or making us more aquiline?

                                                      • Facts Before Feellings
                                                        Facts Before Feellings  2 months back

                                                        The theory is that not having body hair gives humans the ability to run during the heat of the day. One ancient way of hunting 4 legged animals, Is to chase them during the heat of the day casing them to collapse from heat exhaustion. Most 4 legged animals cannot run an cool there bodies at the same time. So they will eventual overheat and collapse if forced to gallop for long periods of time.

                                                    • Hassan Ahmed
                                                      Hassan Ahmed  2 months back

                                                      The origins of Vandal Savage.

                                                      • Matthew Flynn
                                                        Matthew Flynn  2 months back

                                                        Anyone know the name of the background music at 3:19?

                                                        • warpspeed
                                                          warpspeed  2 months back

                                                          This tatooed arm...Why?

                                                        • Bojan Zigic
                                                          Bojan Zigic  2 months back

                                                          I'm playing Ancestors and I'm at 7.5M years ago walking on two legs easy baby

                                                        • 47DAF
                                                          47DAF  2 months back

                                                          I am sad you didn't even mention the Aquatic Ape Theory. Walking on two legs and having no hair is ideal for living at a river or the ocean.

                                                        • JP Napiza
                                                          JP Napiza  2 months back

                                                          You mean the Beast Titan?

                                                          • MtnTow
                                                            MtnTow  2 months back

                                                            5:47 seen her on POF

                                                            • zhbvenkhoReload
                                                              zhbvenkhoReload  2 months back

                                                              Go to Congress. Those cavemen never evolved.

                                                              • ரமேஷ் குமார்


                                                                • ursaltydog
                                                                  ursaltydog  2 months back

                                                                  maybe while walking on that wet bed of ash, they learned to walk upright so as not to have so much ash in their lungs, and could hold a hand over their mouth and nose... well.. those who lived that is..

                                                                  • ben nichols
                                                                    ben nichols  2 months back

                                                                    Lots of critters walked on two legs before us.

                                                                    • Jamichael0303
                                                                      Jamichael0303  2 months back

                                                                      What about an episode on when we first spoke

                                                                      • daffadd1
                                                                        daffadd1  2 months back

                                                                        I really dont want to listen or look at a tattooed bimbo

                                                                        • SwiftJustice2020
                                                                          SwiftJustice2020  2 months back

                                                                          I don’t know who this woman is, but she’s great

                                                                          • Robin Oscar
                                                                            Robin Oscar  2 months back

                                                                            Am I the only who gets freaked out from the facial reconstructions of our ancestors ...?

                                                                            • littlesnowflakepunk
                                                                              littlesnowflakepunk  2 months back

                                                                              It's the eyes. Very hard to make eyes that look alive in a sculpture.

                                                                          • the ardist
                                                                            the ardist  2 months back

                                                                            Steve wasn’t the last name!! 😱