• bipedalism;
  • erect posture;
  • locomotor economy


The presence of a bipedal gait in fossil apes is now recognized as the earliest paleontological evidence of the beginnings of the human lineage. Thus, the search for the selective pressure that led to the adoption of bipedal posture and gait is the search for the origins of the human adaptation. One of the most popular candidates for the origin of erect posture is its purported energetic advantage.1–4 This argument is reevaluated in light of data on the energetic cost of locomotion in mammals and, particularly, data on the effect of bipedalism on cost. I go on to discuss what morphological traces we might expect to see of changes in the locomotor economy of our ancestors once bipedalism became established.