Reviews: Good with Their Feet; February 2004; Scientific American Magazine; by Blake Edgar, Staff Editors; 2 Page(s)
"Anyone who thinks that six million years of human evolution has created an optimally designed, anatomically perfect human has never looked closely at his own body," asserts biological anthropologist Craig Stanford in Upright, his brief, breezy tour through the most vexing problem (aside from language) in human origins: why we, alone among primates and all mammals, took to full-time, two-footed locomotion. Fossil evidence unearthed during the past 30 years has confirmed that bipedalism emerged long before culture, big brains, stone tools and other attributes we have upheld as uniquely ours. Bipedalism still guarantees inclusion as a hominid, a member of the human family, although that is one of the bones that Stanford has to pick in his fifth book.
Rather than harp on why bipedal humans are so unusual, Stanford, a professor at the University of Southern California, places people into a broad ecological and evolutionary perspective. He points to another group of captivating fossil creatures - dinosaurs - as nature's first experiment with erect posture. Dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes and employed different kinds of bipedalism for different circumstances.