Humans have been walking upright for around 6 million years. We’re the only species to do so, and we likely invented it as a way of using our hands more efficiently while running or climbing trees.
- But why is walking such an important part of our lives?
- And how long has this trend continued?
Let’s take a look at some surprising facts about human history, from the early hominins who walked on two legs to modern humans and their favorite pastimes.
Humans have been walking upright for around 6 million years
Humans have been walking upright for around 6 million years. This means that we’re the only species on Earth to walk on two legs, and it’s not just a recent phenomenon, it has been an important part of our lives for as long as we can remember.
The first animals to use their front limbs to move around were probably shrews, hedgehogs and moles. These mammals are still with us today. The earliest known example of walking was found in Africa about 1.4 million years ago.
Walking was invented by apes, who couldn’t fly
If you were to ask an ape what he or she was doing, the answer would be “walking.” This is because apes don’t fly. Apes can’t fly and therefore have to walk on all fours (or two legs) in order to move around their environment.
While some species might have been able to stand up straight and walk upright, this is not a natural way for them to move around and if you think about it for too long, then you’ll realize that it’s kind of silly for an animal like an ape or a human being whose ancestors evolved from walking animals into one that’s capable of being upright instead of just sitting down like they do now.
Why are humans the only species to walk on two legs?
In a word: evolution. We have more efficient spinal columns and hips, which allow us to walk faster than other animals and also have more efficient feet, allowing us to run longer distances at a time.
This can be compared with an Olympic runner who has a much more powerful leg muscle than an average person; in fact, their entire body is shaped differently so that they can produce more force with each stride.
What’s so great about walking upright, anyway?
When you think of walking, the first thing that comes to mind is probably something like this: You’re on all fours while your hands and feet are locked in place. You may have heard of this movement being referred to as “dogging” but it’s actually called quadrupedal locomotion because it involves four limbs two legs and two forearms.
If you’re not familiar with quadrupedal locomotion, don’t worry. It’s been around for eons (though not necessarily in human form). Dogs have used their front paws to walk upright since ancient times. Even humans did it sometimes when they were babies. They just weren’t able to do so until later due to developmental issues that required extra time before their bodies could support themselves properly.
How much time do we spend walking each day?
You may be surprised to learn that you spend more time walking than sleeping, eating, working and watching TV combined. That’s because humans are bipedal animals. We’re designed for walking. We walk for at least 20 hours a week, and often even more.
In fact, researchers have found that people who live in cities generally spend less time walking than those who live in rural areas or suburbs because most urban areas have sidewalks and paths that connect the different parts of town (which makes it easier for people to get around).
How far do we walk in our lives?
You are probably walking around 10,000 steps a day. But how far does this distance break down into?
- Well, if you’re an average height man and weigh about 150 pounds (68 kilograms), then your steps amount to about 5 miles or 3.5 kilometers.
- A woman of similar height would walk around 4 miles (6 kilometers).
- You might be thinking that those numbers seem pretty low, they are. But if you take the average person’s stride length as being 4 inches long per footstep, then their legs would be able to walk more than 40 miles (64 kilometers) in one day of activity.
What’s the fastest human has ever walked?
The fastest human to walk a mile is Rob Young, who ran a mile in 3 minutes and 58 seconds in 2012. That’s about as fast as Usain Bolt can run the 100m dash.
What’s even more amazing about this feat is that Young was only 18 years old at the time of his record-breaking performance. He broke his own record three years later when he walked 2 miles in 4:50 (a pace slower than what Carl Lewis ran).
Have humans always walked at the same pace and stride?
You may be surprised to learn that humans have always walked with the same gait. That’s right, our ancestors have been walking this way for thousands of years. This is due to one very clear reason: it works. Walking straight has been beneficial to us throughout history and is still beneficial today.
The human body was built for walking upright on two legs. When you combine this with gravity pulling down on your muscles from above, things get easier over time because there are fewer joints getting stressed out by running downhill or climbing stairs while carrying things like groceries or suitcases (or even babies).
How did scientists figure out how fast humans walked millions of years ago?
Walking is a complex thing. It’s not just about how fast you can walk, but also how long you can stay in that state of motion. Scientists use computer models and other tools to figure out how fast humans could have walked millions of years ago and they’ve come up with some surprising results.
- The size of the human determines how much force is needed to push off their feet on the ground, which in turn determines how far they’ll be able to move their legs while walking (or running).
- This means that if a person were smaller than average height or heavier than average weight at birth, it would take more energy for them to run or walk.
- If someone was taller or lighter than average for their size during early childhood development stage then there would be less effort required from them when moving around physically throughout life as well.
- The speed at which someone moves through space depends largely on exactly what kind of ground surface they’re walking upon – whether rocky terrain versus soft soil versus grassy meadows etc.
So, scientists have had difficulty determining exactly what type conditions existed during earlier eras without knowing exactly what Anthropocene era creatures looked like themselves back then too.
What’s the slowest anyone has ever walked?
The slowest anyone has ever walked is 1.6 km/h, or 0.9 miles per hour. This was done by a man who was trying to set a new world record for walking on a treadmill with downhill assistance. A device that helps you walk faster when you’re going downhill (like when riding in an elevator).
The reason why this seems so slow is that we tend to think about walking as a weightless activity. It’s not like sprinting or running where your muscles have to contract and push against gravity constantly throughout the whole motion of each step. Instead, your body naturally balances itself out so that each footstep hits down pretty much at the same time.
The oldest known fossil footprints were found in Tanzania
The oldest known fossil footprints were found in Tanzania and were made 3.7 million years ago by a small-brained human ancestor called Australopithecus afarensis. They’re not just your average hobbit.
The fossilized prints show that these early members of our species had shorter legs and feet with a more upright stance than most other primates, which is why scientists say they walk like us today (but on two legs).
We’ve been walking longer than we’ve been doing anything else
You might be surprised to learn that human beings have been walking for more than 6 million years. This is a long time, but it’s not the longest period of time that we’ve ever walked. That distinction belongs to our primate cousins.
Walking is actually the most natural way humans move through space because our bodies were designed by evolution over millions of years specifically so we could move around freely while carrying loads like food and tools.
Check out this National Geographic film if you want to understand more about how humans evolved. The video takes a look at our ancestors’ first steps and how they changed the world.