Sasquatch Coffee

Hey Australopithecus! Walk This Way!

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 12th, 2013


Composite reconstruction of Au. sediba based on recovered material from MH1, MH2 and MH4 and based upon the research presented in the accompanying manuscripts. As all individuals recovered to date are approximately the same size, size correction was not necessary. Femoral length was established by digitally measuring a complete femur of MH1 still encased in rock. For comparison a male common chimpanzee on right. (Credit: Photo by Lee Berger, courtesy of the University of the Witwatersrand)

Australopithecus walked like Sasquatch?

According to a new study, our Australopithecus ancestors may have used different approaches to getting around on two feet. The new findings, co-authored by Boston University researchers Jeremy DeSilva , assistant professor of anthropology, and Kenneth Holt, assistant professor of physical therapy, appear in the latest issue of the journal Science in an article titled “The Lower Limb and Mechanics of Walking in Australopithecus sediba.” The paper is one of six published this week in Science that represent the culmination of more than four years of research into the anatomy of Australopithecus sediba (Au. sediba). The two-million-year-old fossils, discovered in Malapa cave in South Africa in 2008, are some of the most complete early human ancestral remains ever discovered.

The locomotion findings are based on two Malapa Au. sediba skeletons. The relatively complete skeletons of an adult female and juvenile male made possible a detailed locomotor analysis, which was used to form a comprehensive picture of how this early human ancestor walked around its world.

The researchers hypothesize this species walked with a fully extended leg (like humans do), but with an inverted foot (like an ape), producing hyperpronation of the foot and excessive rotation of the knee and hip during bipedal walking. These bipedal mechanics are different from those often reconstructed for other australopiths and suggest that there may have been several forms of bipedalism throughout human evolution.

Australopithecus sediba has a combination of primitive and derived features in the hand, upper limb, thorax, spine, and foot. It also has a relatively small brain, a human-like pelvis, and a mosaic of Homo- and Australopithecus-like craniodental anatomy. The foot in particular possesses an anatomical mosaic not present in either Au. afarensis or Au. africanus, supporting the contention that there were multiple forms of bipedal locomotion in the Plio-Pleistocene. (The recent discovery of an Ardipithecus-like foot from 3.4-million-year-old deposits at Burtele, Ethiopia, further shows that at least two different forms of bipedalism coexisted in the Pliocene.)

Source

Might these findings have an impact on Bigfoot’s bipediality?

The hypothesized style of walking described for Australopithecus sediba sounds very similar to what was shown in Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.

Jeff Meldrum had this to say regarding this article:

I haven’t seen the original paper in Science yet, but this is a significant specimen adding not only to the taxonomic diversity of early hominins, but to the locomotor diversity as well. The emergence of traits for bipedalism was clearly mosaic in fashion in various hominin lineages. As for A. sediba’s bearing on sasquatch, the combination of traits in the sasquatch foot — non-divegent hallux (big toe), flat flexible midfoot, relatively long digits and heel — are in principle to be found analogously among the diversity of other primate bipeds.Jeff Meldrum

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


16 Responses to “Hey Australopithecus! Walk This Way!”

  1. Fhqwhgads responds:

    A. sediba was smaller than a modern human and probably returned to the trees. These are important differences from a putative Bigfoot, making it unlikely that A. sediba’s foot says much about what a Bigfoot foot might actually be like.

    Oh, and we actually have A. sediba bones. That’s a difference, too.

  2. JE_McKellar responds:

    The new findings show that the hominin branch was a lot bushier two million years ago than had previously been assumed. Furthermore, since A. sediba’s particular stance seems very different than Lucy’s (A. afarensis), it seems that many different lineages of apes where experimenting with bipedalism. For all we know, that diversity might go all the way back to the late Miocene, meaning that bipedalism was a rather typical sort of adaptation for apes, and not just this one-off event that led to our own lineage. Bipedal Gigantopithecus or Oreopithecus would thus seem more plausible, not to mention bipedal cryptid apes like Orang Pendak. My limited understanding of Meldrum’s work is that he thinks Bigfoot tracks indicate a non-human bipedal ape. That a variety of bipedal apes existed 2mya might not say a whole lot about diversity today, but it does show that there are multiple ways for bipedalism to work in apes.

  3. Fhqwhgads responds:

    The bushiness of the tree has not changed qualitatively. This is just one more species in the genus Australopithecus, which already had several. It is a neat finding in itself.

    There are too many “maybes” needed to draw a line between a 4.5 foot tall Australopithecus living 2 million years ago in Africa and an 8 foot tall creature living today in (among other places) Washington state.

    A. sediba apparently liked to climb trees, based on the structure of its foot. I would assume a Bigfoot *could* climb a tree (one big enough to support him, anyhow), but I don’t recall ever hearing of anyone seeing one in a tree. (This is a cue for DWA to join and say, “I know of at least eight reports of Bigfoot sitting in a tree. Six of these came from schoolgirls, and they also mentioned K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”) There would not be much in trees for a Bigfoot to eat; squirrels are too fast, and even if it climbed an apple tree, the fruit tends to be on branches too small to support it — but it seems to prefer conifer forests without many fruit trees. There are few if any predators that might chase a Bigfoot into a tree; the most likely would be an adult grizzly, but they can certainly climb trees, so climbing is not a good escape plan.

  4. JE_McKellar responds:

    I think it does change the bushiness qualitatively. Before, the idea was that some ancestral Australopithecine, say A. anamensis, evolved bipedalism and then branched out into several different species across East and South Africa. Now it seems that many different species were fiddling around with bipedalism independently, even other genera like Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus.

    When we look at the known living apes today, we think that bipedalism is really something special because only H. sapiens has it, and the other great apes don’t. But if bipedalism, or semi-bipedalism, was common to a bunch of different species a few million years ago, then maybe it isn’t that special or unusual at all. Historically speaking, it might actually be a common trait among ape species. It’s just that our own time is unusual in that apparently only H. sapiens is the only bipedal ape still around.

    Still, A. sediba isn’t a bigfoot, just as it isn’t a modern human. A lot has changed in 2 million years.

  5. Fhqwhgads responds:

    All the Australopithecines were bipedal, so that part is not new. As for our present uniqueness, just a few tens of thousands of years ago there were several species of genus Homo. Well, probably the Neanderthals and Denisovans were really subspecies, not fully distinct species, but H. floresiensis was almost certainly a different species, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were more, say, 70,000 years ago.

  6. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Actually, this seems more interesting to me. It might be interesting to see if Bigfoot hands have been shaped by the use of stone tools the way ours have. The answer might constrain when they could have diverged from our line. If they have hands shaped by stone tools but never lost body hair, they probably diverged from us between 1.0 and 1.7 million years ago — assuming that they are real.

  7. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads:

    That analogies exist between any fossil primate’s bipedal walk and that inferred by trained scientists from sasquatch evidence should interest any serious scientist. Period, for reasons obvious to any serious scientist.

  8. DWA responds:

    …and I should have added:

    “We have bones” is an irrelevant fact to toss into the argument. Everybody knows that nobody is going to bring in bones from something that “doesn’t exist,” primarily because almost no one finding them will have any idea what they are. Let alone allow anything but a body to sway them from their utter (unfounded) conviction that “we can’t have apes in North America. They’re too smart.”

    Or whatever cockamamie reason exists in their truncated thought process. But I digress.

    “(This is a cue for DWA to join and say, “I know of at least eight reports of Bigfoot sitting in a tree. Six of these came from schoolgirls, and they also mentioned K-I-S-S-I-N-G.”)”

    Still sore about that one, eh? Not becoming a scientist.

  9. Fhqwhgads responds:

    That analogies exist between any fossil primate’s bipedal walk and that inferred by trained scientists from sasquatch evidence should interest any serious scientist. Period, for reasons obvious to any serious scientist.

    When the “trained scientist” (only one cited here) prefaces his statement with, “I haven’t seen the original paper in Science yet…”: no, his inferences are not interesting to “any serious scientist”. Period. “Serious scientists” don’t wait in anticipation for pronouncements by minor characters on the fringe on papers they have not read.

    If Meldrum were not a Bigfoot believer, you yourself would insist that until he examined the evidence at least by reading the paper, he is not qualified to render an expert opinion on the evidence. At least that’s the standard to which you hold paleontologists who have not read all the Bigfoot books and asked to see casts of the footprints.

    Everybody knows that nobody is going to bring in bones from something that “doesn’t exist,” primarily because almost no one finding them will have any idea what they are.

    Actually, it’s because things that don’t exist don’t leave bones. Finding bones of unknown origin is not uncommon, though. That’s how we found out that A. sediba existed in the first place, along with ground sloths and hobbits and a lot of other surprising critters.

    Still sore about that one, eh?

    No, that was just a lame attempt at humor. I really don’t know of any reports of Bigfoot climbing a tree, and I can’t think of a good reason why an 8-foot ape in the Pacific Northwest would take the trouble, let alone do it habitually. Given the wide variety of reports, though, I’m guessing a few such reports probably do exist, and if so, that you will sound off about it.

  10. DWA responds:

    And I should say: great job putting this one up here, Craig. Classic why-I-come-to-Cryptomundo.

  11. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Mea culpa maxima. There is a report of a maybe-Bigfoot in a tree just down the page! It does sound more like a bear (maybe with a skin disease or a facial injury) than a Sasquatch, though.

  12. DWA responds:

    “Actually, this seems more interesting to me. It might be interesting to see if Bigfoot hands have been shaped by the use of stone tools the way ours have.”

    Not so interesting to me, because (1) the evidence indicates that they have not, and (2) that our hands were shaped by the use of stone tools is a speculation not far off that that Nessie is real.

    (But it does show that scientists allow a lot of far-out talk in some areas, while not even considering evidence in others.)

    Before one makes a stone tool, one must have oneself the tools to make it. Sasquatch evidence indicates, in the strongest possible terms, that they don’t. It stands to reason, moreover, that if one lacks the hand to make the tool, one ain’t gonna make the tool.

  13. DWA responds:

    “When the “trained scientist” (only one cited here) prefaces his statement with, “I haven’t seen the original paper in Science yet…”: no, his inferences are not interesting to “any serious scientist”. Period. “Serious scientists” don’t wait in anticipation for pronouncements by minor characters on the fringe on papers they have not read.”

    Well, if you are totally OK that Patterson and Gimlin made up, off the top of their heads – or found, in the Homo sapiens population – a locomotor capability appearing in some ways analogous to au. sediba, well, um, good for you! Serious scientists entertain speculation (some pwetty kwaaaaaaaaa-zeeeeeeee speculation, I might add, particularly in this particular field), and don’t consider “not proven” to mean “not real.” And Jeff Meldrum isn’t a minor character on the fringe, except to folks who just aren’t paying attention. But not paying attention is a routine characteristic of the scientific mainstream, which is why the scientific mainstream needs the Meldrums. Besides which, au. sediba is one more point for Meldrum, although, as is typical of him, he makes a very understated response, as any good scientist should.

    “If Meldrum were not a Bigfoot believer, you yourself would insist that until he examined the evidence at least by reading the paper, he is not qualified to render an expert opinion on the evidence. At least that’s the standard to which you hold paleontologists who have not read all the Bigfoot books and asked to see casts of the footprints.”

    Meldrum is not a “Bigfoot believer.” He is a skeptic, who like any good skeptic, like, you know, me, for example, follows evidence and only evidence. He is doing what I expect of any good scientist here. I flat encourage – and always have – intelligent speculation by scientists. I have always frowned upon “it ain’t real” as a conclusion. I flat encourage – and always have – paleontologists to examine sasquatch evidence. Your problem is that you will not be able to find one of them that has come up with a scientific demurrer to Meldrum. I mean, I’m still waiting.

    “Actually, it’s because things that don’t exist don’t leave bones.”

    And things that do leave bones that don’t get identified; that get lost in the basements of museums; etc. And I know you are now going to tell me how one gets to the “don’t exist” conclusion when first, one cannot prove a negative and second, the evidence flat contradicts one.

    “Finding bones of unknown origin is not uncommon, though. That’s how we found out that A. sediba existed in the first place, along with ground sloths and hobbits and a lot of other surprising critters.”

    That aren’t surprising in the least. Au. sediba is, in context, a squirrel in my backyard, as are the others. They were found in places they were more or less expected, by people who more or less expected to find them. I mean, when one is actually digging for something one isn’t going to just throw it out, right? Even the first finds were brought to the world’s attention by people who were willing to do so – largely because they were being paid, or were driven, to do it. And not a few of them suffered early ridicule for revealing what are today recognized as landmark discoveries.

    Way too many yawners are hailed by scientists as earthshaking. What, they thought they’d found all the australopithecines, when they themselves are saying we only have remains for something like 5% of extinct primates? Scientists are always finding squirrels in backyards. It’s when something turns up in a place they have just decided out of blue smoke is “impossible” that they’re in denial. Well, most of them, right, Jeff? Yeah, you’re gonna have trouble with a North American ape when you find another squirrel and yell, EUREKA! ANOTHER SQUIRREL…!!!

    “I can’t think of a good reason why an 8-foot ape in the Pacific Northwest would take the trouble, let alone do it habitually.”

    Well, you aren’t the ape, are you? I can’t figure out for the life of me why anything would be built like au. sediba when it could be built like a sasquatch.

    “Given the wide variety of reports, though, I’m guessing a few such reports probably do exist, and if so, that you will sound off about it.”

    And sure enough, there are several. One of the many benefits of acquaintance with evidence. I leave it to you to find them, like I did.

    (Why the hell would a human climb a tree? is step one.)

  14. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Actually, a squirrel would be pretty amazing if you never knew squirrels existed. More to the point, an Iguanodon looks like nothing ever known in the British Isles — so much so that the first reconstructions were wildly inaccurate. It was like that with all the early dinosaur fossils. We don’t have to go back that far, though; the ground sloth was like nothing Jefferson had ever seen in Virginia. It isn’t very much like a modern sloth. These creatures did not come from ambiguous figures in heraldry or condensed, heavily edited, Europeanized versions of Amerindian legends, they came from scientific evidence.

    In contrast, nothing could be simpler than the formula Big + Furry + Wild + Man. It’s the sort of thing any Cub Scout could invent, and in fact it has been invented by storytellers all over the world. If you want, you can believe that there is one amazing species of apparently wild half man / half animal that somehow visits everywhere man goes — in which case you’d better make him paranormal or have him fly in a UFO — or you can believe there is not one, but a dozen or so species all filling this same role and all with the freakish ability to avoid being photographed, hit by cars, or find any other way of producing decent evidence, or you can believe that *most* of these are mythological, but the North American one is one of the few exceptions — maybe the only exception — and is real. One way or the other, it gives something for the Six Million Dollar Man to fight.

    Why do humans sometimes climb trees? 1. Historically, for safety. Many potential predators like wolves can’t climb as well as we can. A juvenile saquatch might find this useful, except that even if the adult males go on walkabout, the juvenile males would probably stay with the females. The adults would probably have nothing to fear from any predator. 2. Today, to trim them of limbs and/or chop them down. A lumberjack sasquatch, on the other hand, sounds more like an extra member of the Village People. 3. To pick fruit. I doubt a Bigfoot could get out to those limbs, though. He might shake a tree, or bang on a limb to knock the fruit off (which at least is a sensible reason for “knocking”). Not that there are many fruit trees native to the northwest. Well, we could probably add stealing eggs, looking for termites, and raiding bee hives.

    All told, there is more reason for a human to climb a tree than a hypothetical Bigfoot. In spite of which, we don’t have feet adapted for climbing, though A. sediba seemingly did.

    As for whether using stone tools for a million years or so has changed the human hand, I’ll leave that to the experts. That’s not me. It’s also not you.

  15. DWA responds:

    Your post illustrates two things:

    1. Why it is far more unlikely for anyone to report sasquatch evidence of any kind than the “incredible” stuff you list, e.g., the sasquatch is so mundane an idea and would be so obvious were it real that it’s therefore ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE (and oh by the way we’re gonna make it sound so ridiculous you’d consider eating your child before reporting one). Don’t know the Latin name for the fallacy, but there must be one.

    2. How it’s the animal, not us, who decides what it does things for. You didn’t include “scoping for game” or “just clean fun,” two reasons primates – not just us – do things. You also didn’t include “both parents hunt, leaving child in tree.” Or “parent climbs tree to get child that won’t come down.” Etc.** And I can personally guarantee you that 90% of the soaring any soaring bird does has little if any survival value. We can’t be trusted to suss an animal’s motivations. (Except for that one I just did. Animals have a lot more fun than we do.)

    And it certainly is me who says that the stone tool you want to make doesn’t shape your hand. I’d love to hear the explanation for this one, if only to say no, that’s what you think, but here is what it really is. A hand can evolve, through random mutations that just happen to have survival value, to the extent required to make a certain level of stone tool – well prior of course to that tool being made, for which the intellect needs to be there beforehand too. Beyond that, it’s, well, accident, just another accident that happens to have survival value, and is selected for.

    **And given what wolves eat on a regular basis, I wouldn’t consider sasquatch at all invulnerable…and there’s circumstantial evidence from SE Alaska that I shouldn’t. And sasquatch get old, and sick. And injured. In all of which circumstances one could likely climb a tree a wolf couldn’t.

  16. norman-uk responds:

    Well Sediba was a great discovery, particularly for the number and quality of specimens and their context. Before Sedipa fossils of that age and type were sparse and not generally in great condition. There is even a possibilty of a tissue sample !

    See http://johnhawks.net/malapa

    Sediba fossils in their relative abundance clearly might throw some light on sasquatch bi-pedality etc. Interesting to look at how patti walked and vice versa from the P/G film gain some enlightenment about the gait etc of Sediba. They are not going to be identical but more so than making comparisons with modern man.

    Interesting to consider if Sasaquatch has a barrel shaped chest or tending to the conical for example as has sediba. Might explain its head buried in the chest ?

    Seems like a good opportunity for Doc Meldrum, for his pleasure and for enlightenment and for all of ours. I expect he is already on to it !

    This is another shift like the homo floriensis discovery where evidence accepted by scientists draws sasquatch more and more into the conventional science arena. Good thing !

    Worth watching if you get the chance Nat Geo film, ”2million year old boy” about the discovery of the sediba fossils.



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