Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Early parents didn’t stand for weighty kids

24.04.2008
Scientists investigating the reasons why early humans – the so-called hominins – began walking upright say it’s unlikely that the need to carry children was a factor, as has previously been suggested.

Carrying babies that could no longer use their feet to cling to their parents in the way that young apes can has long been thought to be at least one explanation as to why humans became bipedal.

But University of Manchester researchers investigating the energy involved in carrying a child say the physical expense to the mother does not support the idea that walking upright was an evolutionary response to child transportation.

“Walking upright is one of the major characteristics that separates humans from their primate relatives,” said Dr Jo Watson, who carried out the research in the University’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

... more about:
»humans »infant »upright »weight

“Scientists have long hypothesised as to the reasons why hominins became bipedal in a relatively short space of time but the truth is we still don’t know for sure.

“One of the more popular explanations is that walking upright freed our forelimbs allowing us to carry objects, including children; apes have no need to carry their young as they are able to grip using both hands and feet.

“Our study focused on the amount of energy required to carry 10kg loads, including a mannequin child. Importantly, the distribution of the weight varied in each instance.”

The team monitored the oxygen consumption of seven women, all healthy individuals under the age of 30, carrying either a symmetric load, in the form of a weighted vest or a 5kg dumbell in each hand, or an asymmetric load, which was a single 10kg weight carried in one hand or a mannequin infant on one hip.

“Carrying an awkward asymmetric load, such as the infant on one side of the body, is the most energetically expensive way of transporting the weight,” said Dr Watson, whose research is published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

“Unless infant carrying resulted in significant benefits elsewhere, the high cost of carrying an asymmetrical weight suggests that infant carrying was unlikely to have been the evolutionary driving force behind bipedalism.”

The study, carried out with colleagues at the Universities of Sheffield and Salford and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is part of a larger project, run by Dr Bill Sellers at The University of Manchester, which uses computer simulations to understand evolutionary processes, particularly the way in which we and other animals move.

Future plans are to extend this work to assess the energy cost of carrying in great apes. Computer models of early hominins carrying loads will also be built to try and evaluate whether their body shape and posture – long arms and short legs – would have made them noticeably better or worse at carrying than present-day humans. The research team hopes this will help build up a picture of how humans evolved to walk on two legs.

Aeron Haworth | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

Further reports about: humans infant upright weight

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>