This edition: The First Bipeds
The key trait that makes a hominoid a hominin is evidence for bipedalism. In this lesson, experts discuss the physical changes that must occur for the transition to bipedalism, including the more forward positioning of the foramen magnum, the large hole through which the spinal cord passes into the skull; a pelvis that becomes more bowl-shaped rather than the long blade-like pelvis of a chimpanzee; a longer leg; and a foot with springy arches. Important discoveries are examined in the time period from 4 to 1 million years ago, including East African discoveries such as Australopithecus anamensis and the famous “Lucy” specimen. The history of discovery in South Africa is reviewed, starting with the first Australopithecus, the Taung child, and the more rugged genus Paranthropus. Finally, you will learn about the first member of our genus, Homo habilis.