Arboreality, terrestriality and bipedalism

Robin Huw Crompton, William I Sellers, Susannah K S Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The full publication of Ardipithecus ramidus has particular importance for the origins of hominin bipedality, and strengthens the growing case for an arboreal origin. Palaeontological techniques however inevitably concentrate on details of fragmentary postcranial bones and can benefit from a whole-animal perspective. This can be provided by field studies of locomotor behaviour, which provide a real-world perspective of adaptive context, against which conclusions drawn from palaeontology and comparative osteology may be assessed and honed. Increasingly sophisticated dynamic modelling techniques, validated against experimental data for living animals, offer a different perspective where evolutionary and virtual ablation experiments, impossible for living mammals, may be run in silico, and these can analyse not only the interactions and behaviour of rigid segments but increasingly the effects of compliance, which are of crucial importance in guiding the evolution of an arboreally derived lineage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3301-3314
Number of pages14
JournalRoyal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1556
Early online date20 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2010


  • biomechanics
  • bipedalism
  • evolution
  • field studies


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