BMSAP

, Volume 26, Issue 3–4, pp 121–128 | Cite as

Fossil hominins, quadrupedal primates and the origin of human bipedalism: a 3D geometric morphometric analysis of the Primate hamate

  • G. Daver
  • F. Détroit
  • G. Berillon
  • S. Prat
  • D. Grimaud-Hervé
Note / Note

Abstract

This note illustrates the value of studying non-human primates, especially quadrupedal primates, in order to investigate the origins of human bipedalism. Two distinct hypotheses postulate that hominins and African great apes share a common ancestor predominantly engaged in specialized forms of locomotion, i.e., arboreal orthogrady (climbing or arboreal bipedalism) on the one hand and semiterrestrial locomotion (which includes climbing and quadrupedalism) on the other. Both hypotheses are supported by analysis of the wrist morphology of Pliocene hominins, and both have recently been challenged by a third hypothesis based on the study of Ardipithecus ramidus wrist morphology, which has shown general affinities between the latter hominin and quadrupedal primates. However, all three interpretations rely on rather limited knowledge of the variability of wrist bones in quadrupedal primates. Here, we propose to address the question of the origins of human bipedalism by means of a three-dimensional analysis of a carpal bone, the hamate, whose morphology appears to vary according to the locomotor behaviour of primates. We compared the original specimens of Pliocene hominins (Australopithecus) with a large sample of non-human primates, including various quadrupedal anthropoids. Our results confirm that, on the one hand, the shape of the hamate in primates varies significantly according to their locomotor behaviour and, on the other hand, that the hypothesis of the semiterrestrial origin of human bipedalism can be rejected. The affinities between Pliocene hominins and most of extant quadrupedal primates indicate that the hands of early hominins partly retained a morphology inherited from a generalist quadrupedal ancestor, which concurs with the hypothesis recently proposed from the hand bones of Ar. ramidus.

Keywords

Carpals Evolution Quadrupedalism Bipedalism 3D geometric morphometrics 

Homininés fossiles, primates quadrupèdes et l’origine de la bipédie : une analyse morphométrique géométrique 3D de l’hamatum chez les primates

Résumé

Cette note vise à illustrer l’intérêt d’étudier les primates non-humains, notamment quadrupèdes, pour mieux caractériser l’origine de la bipédie humaine. Deux hypothèses stipulent que les homininés partageraient avec les grands singes africains un ancêtre commun impliqué majoritairement dans une forme de locomotion spécialisée, à savoir : l’hypothèse d’une orthogradie arboricole (grimper ou bipédie arboricole) et l’hypothèse d’une semi-terrestrialité (qui inclue quadrupédie et grimper). Ces deux propositions sont notamment supportées par l’analyse morphologique du poignet des homininés pliocènes. Ces propositions ont été récemment remises en cause par une troisième interprétation fondée sur l’étude morphologique des os du poignet d’Ardipithecus ramidus, et qui a mis en évidence des affinités globales entre ce dernier homininé et des singes quadrupèdes. Cependant, ces trois propositions reposent sur une connaissance limitée de la variabilité de ces os chez les primates quadrupèdes. Nous proposons donc d’aborder la question de l’origine de la bipédie humaine par l’analyse tri-dimensionnelle d’un os carpien, l’hamatum, dont la morphologie varierait selon les modes locomoteurs des primates, en considérant des fossiles originaux d’homininés (Australopithecus) ainsi qu’un large échantillon d’anthropoïdes actuels, incluant une grande variété de primates quadrupèdes. Nos résultats confirment d’une part, que la forme de l’hamatum des primates varie selon les comportements locomoteurs, et d’autre part, que l’hypothèse d’une origine semiterrestre de la bipédie humaine peut être rejetée. Les affinités entre les homininés pliocènes et la plupart des primates quadrupèdes actuels soutiennent que les mains des homininés anciens ont en partie retenu une morphologie héritée d’un primate quadrupède généraliste. Ce résultat est en accord avec l’hypothèse récemment proposée à partir des os de la main d’Ar. ramidus.

Mots clés

Carpiens Évolution Quadrupédie Bipédie Morphométrie géométrique 3D 

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Copyright information

© Société d'anthropologie de Paris et Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Daver
    • 1
  • F. Détroit
    • 2
  • G. Berillon
    • 3
  • S. Prat
    • 3
  • D. Grimaud-Hervé
    • 2
  1. 1.IPHEP : Institut de Paléoprimatologie et de Paléontologie Humaine : évolution et paléoenvironnementsUMR (CNRS) 7262, Université de Poitierscedex 9France
  2. 2.Département de PréhistoireUMR (CNRS) 7194, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelleParisFrance
  3. 3.UPR (CNRS) 2147, Dynamique de l’Evolution HumaineParisFrance

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