Aaron Filler’s Morotopithecus bipedalism

I’ve been under the radar for several days.

I’ve been struggling to understand this paper, “Homeotic Evolution in the Mammalia: Diversification of Therian Axial Seriation and the Morphogenetic Basis of Human Origins,” from Aaron Filler of Harvard’s Anthropology department. All I can really make sense of it is that there’s a probability that bipedalism originated way earlier than we think right now. And that chimpanzees, gorillas, and the like, were mutants that reverted back to a more primitive primate body plan.

Filler suggests this because of a transformed hominiform type of lumbar spine found in Morotopithecus bishopi, an extinct hominoid species that lived in Uganda more than 21 million years ago. In the paper he compares human vertebra to the Morotopithecus, which both show an absence of the styloid process and relocation of the lumbar transverse process. Because of this transformation, he suggests Morotopithecus, along with three upright bipedal species from the Early Miocene, were bipedal long before any Australopithecine.

His analysis is very thorough but it is honestly hard to accept. If you wanna read more about Morotopithecus, you maybe interested in this, “Postcranial functional morphology of Morotopithecus bishopi, with implications for the evolution of modern ape locomotion.”

5 thoughts on “Aaron Filler’s Morotopithecus bipedalism

  1. The full explanation is in the book “The Upright Ape” and in layman’s terms. I have read both the book and the paper and grant that the paper is not enough – read the excerpts from the book on his website for clarification.

  2. Interestingly enough, the Quran comments on these issues….have to be a good reader however to dissect their connections without placing them too firmly in one generation or another i.e. context as in the context in which the Quran was revealed:

    The Expansion, Sura 94

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

    Have We not expanded for you your breast, And taken off from you your burden Which pressed heavily upon your back, And exalted for you your self esteem?Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease.So when you are free, nominate. And make your Lord your exclusive object. -The Glorious Quran

    The Time, Sura 76

    There surely came over man a period of time when he was a thing not worth mentioning.
    Surely We have created man from a small life-germ uniting (itself): We mean to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing. -The Glorious Quran

    The Cow, Sura 2

    And certainly you have known those among you who exceeded the limits of the Sabbath, so We said to them: Be (as) apes, despised and hated. -The Glorious Quran

    I repeat, the Glorious Quran..not the Almost Terrific Quran.


  3. Re: “Because of this transformation, he suggests Morotopithecus, along with three upright bipedal species from the Early Miocene, were bipedal long before any Australopithecine.”

    Actually, the way evolution works is first the adaptation then the use. Morotopithecus was already adapted for a full bipedal stance. It does not mean any more than that it had a back capable of walking upright, not that it made use of this adaptation. Filler suggests tree-down because of this IMO.

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