Bioenergetics and the origin of hominid bipedalism

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1980 Jan;52(1):103-6. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330520113.


Compared to most quadrupedal mammals, humans are energetically inefficient when running at high speeds. This fact can be taken to mean that human dipedalism evolved for reasons other than to reduce relative energy cost durding locomotion. Recalculation of the energy expending expended during human walking at normal speeds shows that 1) human bipedalism is at least as efficient as typical mammalian quadrupedalism and 2) human gait is much more efficient than bipedal or quadrupedal locomotion in the chimpanzee. We conclude that bipedalism bestowed an energetic advantage on the Miocene hominoid ancestors of the Hominidae.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Haplorhini / physiology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion*
  • Pan troglodytes / physiology
  • Primates / physiology*