EVOLUTION: More Thoughts On Early Bipedalism

E. Shaun Russell (e_shaun@uniserve.com)
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 20:31:36 -0800 (PST)

Some recents posts by J. de Lyser sparked some ideas into my head.
First of all, it seems that the variety of predators of pre-humans was less
than it is now. I assume that the predators had relatively lesser
intelligence than the pre-human. John Clark pointed out that the
pre-human's defensive capabilities were pretty pathetic...though it depends
on what types of predators the pre-human was up against. If there were
smilodons about, perhaps the pre-human could jump into a tree...pending that
the smilodon wouldn't follow. But since I'm not sure about the type of
predators around that era, I'll go on to the crux of my post.

Though instincts vary from animal to animal, one homogenous instinct
throughout the animal kingdom is one of fear: animals fear what is going to
eat them, maim them, attack them etc. The animal in question usually
combats this by running away etc. For example, a certain specie of lizard
has virtually no defense to predators, however, once the predator
approaches, the lizard flaps its loose skin back, opens its mouth, and runs
on its two hind legs. Needless to say, the predator usually backs off.
This pattern repeats itself with pufferfish, which fill themselves full of
air, giving the appearance of an elongated, spiny, unedible fish. It
usually works. Throughout the history of nature, animals seem to have
improvised to save themselves from being easy prey.

Consider this scenario. The pre-human was quite easy prey for many
predatory carnivores (whatever types they may have been). We already know
that the pre-human had very little natural defense, so perhaps it
improvised. It is very possible that, when threatened, the pre-human reared
itself, stood on its back legs, and gave the predator the appearance of it
being much larger than it actually was...like a modern-day bear. This may
have deterred many a predator. The constant need for rearing itself for
protection would have required strength within the pre-human's thighs and
spine. It could have become neccesary to be bipedal. From there, the usual
predators weren't so willing to attack a pre-human. By the time equivalent
predators came to be, the newly bipedal pre-human began to develop a larger
mind, hands, and posable thumbs. Eventually they could create tools to kill
the animals, and the 'easy prey' suddenly became the predator.

This is just a theory, so please poke holes in it. Is it
historically plausible?

Ingredi Externus!

-E. Shaun Russell

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