Until recently, the last common ancestor of African apes and humans was presumed to resemble living chimpanzees and bonobos. This was frequently extended to their locomotor pattern leading to the presumption that knuckle-walking was a likely ancestral pattern, requiring bipedality to have emerged as a modification of their bent-hip-bent-knee gait used during erect walking. Research on the development and anatomy of the vertebral column, coupled with new revelations from the fossil record (in particular, Ardipithecus ramidus), now demonstrate that these presumptions have been in error. Reassessment of the potential pathway to early hominid bipedality now reveals an entirely novel sequence of likely morphological events leading to the emergence of upright walking.
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