Man, the Tottering Biped

The evolution of his posture, poise and skill

by Philip V Tobias


A discussion on the evolution of human uprightness by South African anatomist and paleoanthropologist Phllip Tobias (1925 – 2012).


“The way in which the body adjusted its structure and biomechanics to the new way of uprightness and bipedalism may be described as little short of ingenious. Nonetheless, after perhaps four million years or more, we have not yet evolved a fault-free mechanism. Our bodies are still subject to what Sir Arthur Keith called the ills of uprightness. They include flat feet, slipped discs, hernias, prolapses and malposture. These maladies of uprightness account for much that keeps today’s orthopaedic surgeons busy. So the mechanism of man’s posture and gait, though resourceful and craftily contrived, is imperfect. The first human ancestors to come upright became heir to a host of new problems.”


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