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J Hum Evol. 2003 Feb;44(2):255-62.

The energetic cost of locomotion: humans and primates compared to generalized endotherms.

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Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


A wide range of selective pressures have been advanced as possible causes for the adoption of bipedalism in the hominin lineage. One suggestion has been that because modern human walking is relatively efficient compared to that of a typical quadruped, the ancestral quadruped may have reaped an energetic advantage when it walked on two legs. While it has become clear that human walking is relatively efficient and human running inefficient compared to "generalized endotherms", workers differ in their opinion of how the cost of human bipedal locomotion compares to that of a generalized primate walking quadrupedally. One view is that human walking is particularly efficient in comparison to other primates. The present study addresses this by comparing the cost of human walking and running to that of the eight primate species for which data are available and by comparing cost in primates to that of a "generalized endotherm". There is no evidence that primate locomotion is more costly than that of a generalized endotherm, although more data on adult Old World monkeys and apes would be useful. Further, human locomotion does not appear to be particularly efficient relative to that of other primates.

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