October 14, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Walking Upright Was a Birth Defect

What’s so big about walking upright?  A single birth defect in a human ancestor 21 million years ago could have made it all possible, according to Dr. Aaron Filler (Cedars Sinai Medical Center), a specialist in the spine.
    According to EurekAlert, he proposes that in the “hominiform hominoid” Morotopithecus, a sibling was born with its horizontal septum transposed behind the lumbar region of the spine.  This would have made its normal knuckle-walking gait inefficient.  The child must have stood upright for relief.

  “Any mammal with this set of changes would only be comfortable standing upright,” he said.  “I would envision this malformed young hominiform – the first true ancestral human – as standing upright from a young age while its siblings walked around on all fours.

According to the article, this idea “greatly demotes the importance of the bipedalism of Australopithecus species such as Lucy,” because walking upright was already old hat by then.  In fact, the septum pattern found in his assumed upright-walking hominoids is as old as some invertebrates.  Filler seems to be proposing upright posture not for any particular functional reason but as a mistake.  “From an embryological point of view,” he remarked, “what took place is literally breathtaking.

So the Ugly Duckling of an early hominoid family found a sweetheart with the same birth defect and the two lived happily ever after, having lots of children that became medical doctors and philosophers.  He’s right; for a story devoid of sense or evidence, this one is literally breathtaking.  Better re-read the 11/18/2004 entry to recall all the other birth defects Dr. Filler forgot to fill out.

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Categories: Dumb Ideas, Early Man

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