Physiology, thermoregulation and bipedalism

George Chaplin, Nina G. Jablonski, N. Timothy Cable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


In recent years, a theory has been developed by Wheeler that bipedalism evolved in the ancestor of the Hominidae in order to help relieve thermal stress on the animals in open equatorial environments. The heat load of the hypothetical hominid comprises the external environment as modelled by Wheeler and the animal's internal environment (i.e., the internal heat generated by its metabolic and locomotor activites, and its evaporative and respirative cooling capacities). When these factors are integrated in the calculation of the animal's thermal budget, the putative advantage of the bipedal over the quadrupedal posture is considerably reduced. The simulations conducted in this study suggest that the increased time afforded to early hominids in the open by bipedalism was relatively short and, therefore, of little or no adaptive significance. These results suggest that thermoregulatory considerations cannot be implicated as a first cause in the evolution of bipedalism in the hominid ancestor. -from Authors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-510
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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