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Myths of the Transition to Bipedalism in Scientific American

The February 2004 edition of Scientific American magazine carried an article headed “Good with Their Feet.” Written by Blake Edgar, the article reviewed the book Upright by the Chair of Department of Anthropology, University of Southern California, Craig Stanford. In commenting on the so-called evolution-based theses of bipedalism of Stanford”s, who is also an evolutionist, Edgar refers to the transition to bipedalism as a historical fact, and the differences between the human and chimpanzee anatomies were described as the work of evolution.

Edgar asks, “How did bipedalism overhaul standard ape anatomy?” and goes on to provide the following answer:

To cite a few changes, our pelvis became much broader, shorter and saddle-shaped. An obscure thigh muscle ballooned into buttocks, the largest human muscles, which shifted function from propulsion to stabilizing the hip in midstep. Our skull and spine were realigned, and our center of gravity shifted up and forward.

Edgar employs a similarly self-confident tone elsewhere in his article. Yet the support he seeks to give the evolution of bipedalism by the use of such expressions actually stems from a totally one-sided perspective. This article sets out Edgar”s evolutionist prejudices.

Firstly, despite being so self-confident, the above expressions actually reveal a major inconsistency as regards the sufficiency of the fossil record ascribed to human evolution. Anyone reading Edgar”s article will, unless possessed of considerable information about the fossil record concerned, come away with the impression that the mythical evolutionary transition that supposedly led to bipedalism is actually supported by a considerable fossil record, in such a way as to leave no possible room for doubt. Yet that would be a grave error to make. In fact, Edgar”s words are bereft of any supporting fossil record and are rather nourished by their author”s own preconceptions.

In an article published in New Scientist magazine, John Reader, author of the book Missing Links, says this about the fossil record ascribed to so-called human evolution:

The entire hominid collection known today would barely cover a billiard table, but it has spawned a science because it is distinguished by two factors which inflate its apparent relevance far beyond its merits. First, the fossils hint at the ancestry of a supremely self-important animal-ourselves. Secondly, the collection is so tantalisingly incomplete, and the specimens themselves often so fragmented and inconclusive, that more can be said about what is missing than about what is present. Hence the amazing quantity of literature on the subject ever since Darwin”s work inspired the notion that fossils linking modern man and extinct ancestor would provide the most convincing proof of human evolution, preconceptions have led evidence by the nose in the study of fossil man. (our emphasis)1

One would naturally expect scientists interpreting such a small amount of fossil record to consider the existence of a number of possibilities. One might also think it is necessary to adopt a tone that avoided definite judgements. Yet Edgar clearly distances himself from such a common sense.

If Edgar”s self-confident tone is not based on scientific evidence, then what is it based on? The answer lies in his philosophical preconceptions. From a perspective which regards materialism as the truth right from the outset, another preconception emerges in which evolution is the origin of species. People who hold to such a preconception-even scientists-refuse to abandon their ideas, even in the absence of a single fossil record that might possibly support evolution. Devotion to materialism brings with it a blind “belief” in evolution.

As can be seen, Edgar and other evolutionists who adopt a similar tone set out to confirm the claims of the theory of evolution not with scientific evidence, but rather with their own beliefs. Rather than being scientific accounts based on empirical evidence, these are expressions of a scientist”s devotion to his own materialist belief.

The Hominid Characters of Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus Consist of Forced Speculation

Edgar”s article claims that about 6 million years ago two-legged hominids, or hominids in the process of transition to bipedalism, were walking around in Africa, and the discoveries of Sahelanthropus and Ardipithecus are put forward to support that claim. It is noteworthy that although these fossils are briefly referred to in the article, Edgar devotes no space to the debates surrounding them. One needs to be aware that the evolutionist claims regarding Sahelanthropus (tchadensis) and Ardipithecus (ramidus kadabba) consist of exceedingly forced speculation. In an article published in Nature magazine, Milford Wolpoff and his colleagues opposed the claim that Sahelanthropus tchadensis was a hominid and maintained that the fossil was that of a female gorilla2. Experts also wrote that the Sahelanthropus tchadensis discovery had put an end to the ladder model of evolution which had been supported for decades and that the idea of a “missing link” was quite nonsensical.
(For details of this fossil discovery, see

Joseph Mastropaolo, a creation scientist and associate member of the American Physiological Society, has opposed the idea that Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba was bipedal. As a result of his comparative anatomical analysis of the Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba toe, Mastropaolo has described these claims as forced speculation. (For further information about this fossil, see

Motive Forces in the So-Called Evolution of Bipedalism: Stanford and
Edgar”s Favourite Just-So Stories

The article in Scientific American also contains claims regarding the motive forces in the alleged evolution of bipedalism. Stanford”s book includes the theses that bipedalism would produce more energy-efficient foragers, or that two-legged males whose hands were now left free would possess an advantage when it came to bringing females food and mating with them, and thus in transmitting their genes to subsequent generations. Edgar, on the other hand, includes the thesis that walking upright under the sun keeps less heat in the body, and that bipedalism evolved because of this, and criticises Stanford for omitting it.

Whatever Edgar or Stanford”s “favourite” theses may be, they are all no more than Just-So stories. In an article in Time magazine, Meave Leakey, a member of the famous fossil-hunting Leakey family and head of the Division of Paleontology at the National Museums of Kenya, is quoted as describing such stories as “fairy tales:”

And if you”re going to bring home the bacon, or the Miocene equivalent, it helps to have your hands free to carry it. Over time, female apes would choose to mate only with those males who brought them food-presumably the ones who were best adapted for upright walking. Is that the way it actually happened? Maybe, but we may never know for sure. Leakey, for one, is unconvinced. “There are all sorts of hypotheses,” she says, “and they are all fairy tales really because you can”t prove anything.” (our emphasis)3


All of the claims in Scientific American magazine regarding the so-called evolution of bipedalism are based on fantasy, and the style adopted in them solely on the philosophical preconceptions of their authors. We invite readers of this article to be wary and to inform themselves of the philosophical preconceptions of the authors of these claims. We also call on the Scientific American management to cease remoulding science in the light of their own materialist assumptions.

1. John Reader, “Whatever Happened to Zinjanthrapus?,” New Scientist, vol. 89, no:12446, 26 March, 1981
2. Wolpoff, M. H., Senut, B., Pickford, M. & Hawks, “J. Sahelanthropus or “Sahelpithecus”,” Nature, 419, 581 – 582, (2002)
3. Michael D. Lemonick & Andrea Dorfman, “One Giant Step for Mankind,” Time, 23 July 2001

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