Who invented walking? Learn when walking was invented, who the first humans to walk upright were, and how it’s the easiest cardio exercise.
Why do humans walk?
Most of us consider the ability to walk upright as the a key separator between ourselves and our ape-like ancestors. “Bipedalism” is the term used to describe what we colloquially refer to as “walking”. It’s something we take for granted and it’s so easy, a baby can nearly do it.
Speaking of babies, they’re a great example of how scientists think humans grew into the innovative, cutting-edge technology of ‘walking’. As babies develop, they start by learning to hold their heads up, begin to crawl on all fours (quadrupedal), work up to standing, then eventually take their first steps upright as bipeds.
Who invented walking?
While it’s easy to sit around in 2022 and picture a genius early human having a wave of inspiration and just deciding to take their first steps, it couldn’t have been an overnight development. When you look at how human skeletons are built, there were some very important items which had to evolve over time. The list is a hefty one, including things like a foot and ankle shaped in a way which could support our body weight, the leg and torso muscles and bones needed to hold ourselves upright and allow us to stabilize, and the right inner ear conditions to allow us to balance as we stood and took those steps.
When was walking invented
As you can tell by reading this article so far, it’s not so easy to pin down exactly when walking was discovered. In 2000, scientists in Kenya found bones of a humanoid species they call Orrorin tugenensis, which had thigh bones in a shape which implied it walked upright, which makes the best guess that early forms of walking could have been around six million years ago.
That’s where we split this into another question: what do you consider to be a human? If you wanted to go the sciency route, Orrorin tugenensis is considered a biped but not a hominid.
Oh, right. So, hominid is a term zoologists use to describe humans and our fossilized ancestors. Orrorin has the nickname of “Millennium Man” and likely looked much closer to a chimpanzee than what we’d consider to be a hominid.
If you wanted to get a little closer to when humans discovered walking, it may be as simple as saying that, by the time humans had evolved, walking was already inherent in the human toolset. But if you wanted a specific year walking was invented? The earliest hominid with significant evidence indicating they may have been bipedal was Ardipithecus ramidus, which has been dated back 4.4-million years.
The first humans to walk upright
After 15 years of research and analysis of 125 different fossilized bone fragments, scientists announced Ardipithecus ramidus (or “Ardi”) in 2009. It’s the most complete specimen of an early hominid researches have been able to put together and replaced the specimen known as “Lucy” and reinforces the idea that the first human-like species to walk upright did so about four and a half million years ago.
On the scale of hominid history, the earliest stone tools appear to be from about a million years later, with homo habilis growing beyond Africa two and a half million years ago, homo erectus beginning to use fire two million years ago, neanderthals becoming prevalent 750,000 years ago, and homo sapiens (I like to call them “us”) coming into the picture just in the last 500,000 years. All traceable back to a distant, less-related ancestor over six million years ago.
- “Ardipithecus Ramidus.” The Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program, 22 Jan. 2021, http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/ardipithecus-ramidus.
- “Early Modern Human.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 May 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_modern_human.
- “Homo Erectus.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 May 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_erectus.
- “Homo Habilis.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Apr. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_habilis.
- “Neanderthal.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthal.
- “Orrorin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 Apr. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orrorin.