November 16, 2019 | Jerry Bergman

Bipedal Ape Fossil Falls on Its Face


Evolutionists Struggle to Explain the Evolution of Bipedalism

by Jerry Bergman, PhD 

Another new discovery yet again claims to “challenge the prevailing view about when and where our ancestors first started walking upright.”[1] A major difference between all primates and humans is humans are bipedal (walk on two feet) and all other primates are quadrupedal (walk on four feet). As Professor Offord acknowledges, “Although some other extant great apes, such as chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), can walk upright, Homo sapiens are the only species that regularly walks on two legs.”[2] Actually, the great apes can walk upright but only for very short distances, and are clearly not designed to walk upright. In contrast, humans, who are designed to walk on two feet, are only comfortable walking upright.

The evolution from quadrupedal to bipedal walking requires many major anatomical changes. Some of the many morphological alterations to the human skeleton that are required include major changes to both the arrangement and size of the bones of the foot, changes in the hip size and shape, the knee size, the leg length, and both the shape and orientation of the vertebral column. Even the ribcage must be altered. Specifically, the Chimpanzee ribcage is cone-shaped to house the gut and yet provide a great range of motion around the shoulder to allow them to walk on all fours. In contrast, the human ribcage is barrel-shaped, allowing arms to swing freely from side to side which is required to effortlessly maintain balance when walking. A few other alterations required to walk upright include the following:

  1. Chimpanzee feet have a divergent hallux (the big toe) that is opposable like the human thumb, allowing chimps to grasp objects with their feet. A disadvantage is when walking upright, chimps have no center of balance. In contrast, humans have a longitudinal arch that runs along the entire foot, allowing the foot to push off the ground with the toes. The heel bone of the human foot is also more robust than that of chimps, allowing it to absorb the force encountered during heel strikes, such as when distance jumping. The hallux of the human foot is longer and not divergent (extending away from the body), aiding in balance due to the center of gravity over the big toe when walking.
  2. The foramen magnum in Humans lies in the center of the base of the skull and the spine. It attaches at this location to hold the head up straight. The foramen magnum in chimpanzees is located at the back of the skull, designed for their locomotion style, namely knuckle-walking.
  3. The nuchal crest is located in Chimpanzees at the back of the cranium. It is larger and more prominent than this structure in humans, reflecting the large muscles required to hold the chimp’s head up. Humans have a far smaller nuchal crest because the skull is balanced above the vertebral column, and thus use muscles to help hold up the head.
  4. The ‘S’-shaped spine in humans is caused by a forward bend in the lumbar region and a backwards bend in the thoracic region. The ‘S’-shaped spine produces a center of gravity directly above the pelvis, allowing the forces of locomotion to be effectively absorbed without bodily damage. The Chimp design lacks the S-curve and uses only one curve.

New book by Dr Bergman addresses back pain and many other alleged cases of poor design in the human body.

These are just a few of the many alterations that are required as a set to convert a chimp from quadrupedal to human for bipedal walking. Any one of these changes found in the fossil record is perceived by evolutionists as evidence of human evolution, even though the result would likely be a major misfit. All of these changes, and many more, including major brain and neuron changes, would be required to evolve from quadrupedal to bipedal travel.

The origin of bipedalism is conventionally addressed by evolutionists using either a top-down or a bottom-up approach. Top-down theory involves animals that eat, sleep, and for protection, live in trees, but spend much of their time on the ground knuckle-walking. The bottom-up theory was inspired by the mechanical similarities between how apes use their legs for climbing and how humans use theirs for walking. This observation suggests that bipedalism evolved from an ape ancestor almost fully committed to life in the trees that was forced by climate changes to walk on the ground.[3]

Ironically, in spite of these many major alterations, some evolutionists incorrectly claim the human skeleton remains poorly adapted to bipedalism, including the fact that lower back and knee joints are plagued by malfunctions resulting in pain.[4] One of many studies that contradicts this claim found the vertebrae of humans with disc problems are closer in shape to those of chimpanzees than vertebrae of humans without disc problems. The evidence against these poor design claims, and the harm they cause to medicine, has also been carefully documented.[5]  (See my 7 Sept 2019 article.)

The two main theories are human bipedalism evolved from an ancestor that was a palmigrade quadruped (which would have moved similar to living monkeys) or from a more suspensory quadruped (most similar to extant chimpanzees who can seemingly effortlessly brachiate on trees).”[6] The palmigrade quadruped involves placing the entire foot on the ground as opposed to walking on the toes; from palma, the palm of the hand and gradi, to walk.

A Find that Evolutionists Hope to Bridge this Gap

The evolution from quadrupedal to bipedal travel is “thought” by many evolutionists to have occurred from the middle to late Miocene epoch.[7] Some of the discoveries uncovered that hint at this change include some partial skeletons, but none of the discoveries have included the “preservation of completely intact long bones” which would be necessary to document a transition from quadrupedal to bipedal locomotion. Authors of the current study believe that the newly-discovered long bones provide such evidence. The fossil contains 12 bone fragments assumed to belong to four different Danuvius individuals. The name Danuvius guggenmosi is from the discovery in the Hammer-schmiede locality named Sigulf Guggenmos.

Researchers found 21 bones from a single Danuvius guggenmosi individual at the site.
CHRISTOPH JÄCKEL, 7 Nov 2019, The Scientist

The bones were unearthed from a Bavarian clay pit between 2015 and 2018. The results reveal a “combination of anatomical features that are indicative of a pattern of arboreal” activity termed extended limb clambering.[8] Although classified as a small hominid (hominin lineage comprises all species more closely related to humans than to chimpanzee) ranging in size from about 17 to 31 kg, a more likely classification is probably an extinct ape.

In contrast to the glowing reports about the importance of the find to document the evolution from quadrupedal to bipedal travel, the New Scientist article was more circumspect, writing that researchers in “Germany have discovered the fossilized bones of a previously unknown species of ape that appeared to walk upright.”[9] The Nature article also openly admitted that the evolution of bipedalism has proven to be a major problem in evolution, admitting that, although many “ideas have been proposed to explain the origin of bipedalism in hominins and suspension in great apes (hominids),” the persistent problem was always that the “fossil evidence has been lacking.”[10] In other words, there exists no fossil evidence. In place of evidence was only speculation. They hope that will change with this new discovery. Madelaine Böhme, a paleobiologist at the University of Tübingen in Germany where the bones are stored, admitted  that many research

studies since the nineteenth century have investigated the origin of human bipedalism. From Darwin and Huxley to the present, many researchers have added insights into this question but with little or no fossil evidence in support. Although many fossils have been discovered, none has shed light directly on this central question in palaeoanthropology.[11]

According to one study of the Danuvius guggenmosi bones, which the team Darwin-dated to nearly 12 million years ago, the findings “suggest that bipedalism might have evolved in a common ancestor of humans and other great apes living in Europe, and not in more-recent human ancestors in Africa as many researchers had assumed.”[12] This find challenges the almost universally accepted conclusion called the ”Out of Africa theory”—the belief that modern humans first evolved in Africa —thus requiring a major rewriting of the thousands of books and scrapping the major educational and documentary films that all assume this view was settled science. Thus, the claim is the D. guggenmosi bone-fragment finding “changes the why, when and where of evolution of bipedality dramatically,”[13]

The evolutionists’ interpretation is that the bone fragments “reveal an ape with arms suited to hanging in trees but human-like legs, suggesting a form of locomotion that might push back the timeline for when walking on two feet evolved.” [14] Professor Kivell added that the find “offers something for everyone: the forelimbs suited to life in the trees that all living apes, including humans, still have, and lower limbs suited to extended postures like those used by orangutans during bipedalism in the trees.” The problem is, “the clues uncovered from such fossils can be difficult to interpret,” as is also very true in this case.[15]

Another possibility is that the D. guggenmosi find actually consists of mixed humans and orangutan fossils. I look forward to more research being completed on this intriguing find. The fact is, there exists “many theories about the evolution of bipedalism,” most assuming that “upright walking appeared in our ancestors about 6 million to 8 million years ago—possibly as an adaptation to a reduction in forest cover occurring in East Africa around the same time.”[16] The fossil rejects this basic assumption. The orthodox “Out-of-Africa” theory will clearly be questioned as a result of this find.


[1] Offord, Catherine. New Scientist 2019. The 12-million-year-old bones of a previously unknown species named Danuvius guggenmosi challenge the prevailing view about when and where our ancestors first started walking upright. 

[2]  Offord, 2019.

[3] Kivell, Tracy L. 2019. Fossil ape hints at how bipedal walking evolved. Nature, November 6.

[4] Stearns, Stephen K and Jacob C. Koella. 2008. Evolution in Health and Disease. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

[5] Bergman, Jerry, Useless Organs: The Rise and Fall of the Once Major Argument for Evolution. 2019. Tulsa, OK: Bartlett Publishing; The “Poor Design” Argument Against Intelligent Design Falsified. 2019. Tulsa, OK: Bartlett Publishing.

[6] Böhme, Madelaine, Nikolai Spassov, Jochen Fuss, Adrian Tröscher, Andrew S. Deane, Jérôme Prieto, Uwe Kirscher, Thomas Lechner & David R. Begun. 2019. A new Miocene ape and locomotion in the ancestor of great apes and humans. Nature, November 6.

[7] Böhme, et al., 2019. The word thought was used by the author.

[8] Böhme, et al., p. 1.

[9] Offord, 2019; emphasis added.

[10] Böhme, et al., 2019.

[11] Böhme, et al., 2019, p. 1.

[12] Offord, 2019; emphasis added.

[13] Offord, 2019.

[14] Kivell, 2019, p. 1.

[15] Kivell, 2019, p 2.

[16] Offord, 2019.

Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology at several colleges and universities including for over 40 years at Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored, are in over 1,500 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 40 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.

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Categories: Early Man, Fossils, Human Body

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