“DeSilva takes us on a brilliant, fun, and scientifically deep stroll through history, anatomy, and evolution, in order to illustrate the powerful story of how a particular mode of movement helped make us one of the most wonderful, dangerous and fascinating species on Earth.”—Agustín Fuentes, Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University and author of Why We Believe: Evolution and the Human Way of Being
“Breezy popular science at its best. . . . Makes a compelling case overall.”—Science News
Blending history, science, and culture, a stunning and highly engaging evolutionary story exploring how walking on two legs allowed humans to become the planet’s dominant species.
Humans are the only mammals to walk on two, rather than four legs—a locomotion known as bipedalism. We strive to be upstanding citizens, honor those who stand tall and proud, and take a stand against injustices. We follow in each other’s footsteps and celebrate a child’s beginning to walk. But why, and how, exactly, did we take our first steps? And at what cost? Bipedalism has its drawbacks: giving birth is more difficult and dangerous; our running speed is much slower than other animals; and we suffer a variety of ailments, from hernias to sinus problems.
In First Steps, paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva explores how unusual and extraordinary this seemingly ordinary ability is. A seven-million-year journey to the very origins of the human lineage, First Steps shows how upright walking was a gateway to many of the other attributes that make us human—from our technological abilities, our thirst for exploration, our use of language–and may have laid the foundation for our species’ traits of compassion, empathy, and altruism. Moving from developmental psychology labs to ancient fossil sites throughout Africa and Eurasia, DeSilva brings to life our adventure walking on two legs.
Delving deeply into the story of our past and the new discoveries rewriting our understanding of human evolution, First Steps examines how walking upright helped us rise above all over species on this planet.
First Steps includes an eight-page color photo insert.
Jeremy DeSilva is an anthropologist at Dartmouth College. He is part of the research team that discovered and described two ancient members of the human family tree—Australopithecus sediba and Homo naledi. He has studied wild chimpanzees in Western Uganda and early human fossils in museums throughout Eastern and South Africa. From 1998 to 2003, he worked as an educator at the Boston Museum of Science. He continues to be passionate about science education and travels throughout New England, giving lectures on human evolution. He and his wife, Erin, live in Norwich, Vermont, with their twins, Ben and Josie.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xi
Part I The Origin of Upright Walking
Chapter 1 How We Walk 3
Chapter 2 T. rex, the Carolina Butcher, and the First Bipeds 17
Chapter 3 "How the Human Stood Upright" and Other Just-So Stories About Bipedalism 31
Chapter 4 Lucy's Ancestors 47
Chapter 5 Ardi and the River Gods 67
Part II Becoming Human
Chapter 6 Ancient Footprints 89
Chapter 7 Many Ways to Walk a Mile 113
Chapter 8 Hominins on the Move 131
Chapter 9 Migration to Middle Earth 145
Part III Walk of Life
Chapter 10 Baby Steps 163
Chapter 11 Birth and Bipedalism 179
Chapter 12 Gait Differences and What They Mean 199
Chapter 13 Myokines and the Cost of Immobility 209
Chapter 14 Why Walking Helps Us Think 221
Chapter 15 Of Ostrich Feet and Knee Replacements 235
Katie Cotugno meets The Bridges of Madison County in a magnetic tale about summer love
that stays with you long after the seasons change.Rose Darrow never wanted to spend her life working on her family’s farm. But when her family ...
Codependency author and expert Darlene Lancer explains the narcissist's mind and motives and the personality
of their partners. Dealing with a Narcissist reveals the unconscious forces driving their mutual attraction and relationship dynamics and sheds light on the damaging impact ...
From bestselling and award-winning author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen comes Extra Yarn, a
Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner, and a New York Times bestseller.A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community in ...
A fully illustrated and authorized episode guide celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the hit-television show
Friends, including a look behind-the-scenes of cult-favorite episodes, exclusive photos from Warner Bros., brand new interviews with show creators Marta Kauffman, David Crane, and set ...
This hilarious classroom comedy series is perfect for fans of Dog Man and Stick Dog!Mysterious hauntings
are causing major trouble at Horace Hotwater Middle School. Sam Gibbs and his super-strong tiny buddy, Hammie Rex, keep encountering creepy abnormal objects, including a ...
For fans of The Border and Jason Bourne, Make Them Cry is an explosive action thriller about
a DEA agent sucked into a dangerous turf war on the US-Mexico border. It’s hard to make Diane Harbaugh flinch. A former prosecutor notorious for her ...
“If you’re hesitant to pull the trigger when things obviously aren't working out, Henry Cloud’s
Necessary Endings may be the most important book you read all year.” —Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author of The Total Money Makeover“Cloud is ...
New York Times BestsellerFeatured in the critically acclaimed documentary RBGIt was beyond my wildest imagination
that I would one day become the 'Notorious RBG. — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2019She was a fierce dissenter with a serious collar game. A legendary, ...