Humans as a species are known for their advanced thinking abilities and superior brain size. However, they are also the only primates that are “habitual and obligate bipeds” (Skoyles, 2006). Being bipedal allows humans to more easily accomplish many tasks, like carrying heavy items while still moving around. It is a well-known idea that humans evolved from other primates, and over time became bipedal as a way to make many of our tasks easier. However, many do not know that bipedalism actually has caused multiple, significant physical problems to humans as a species. From back pain to difficulties in childbirth, bipedalism has caused many physical problems that would likely have not occurred if we were still quadrupedal as a species. While our ancestors became bipedal as a way to complete everyday activities more efficiently and effectively, it has created a major trade-off between the ease of bipedalism and the health problems associated with walking on two feet.At first, bipedalism did not seem to be the best option for locomotion in humans. It was much more unstable and laborious than locomotion as a quadruped. It only became an effective form of movement after millions of years of physical remodeling (Morgan, 1993). However, once the physical Silhanek2makeup of humans had changed drastically, and our bodies were formed into an erect posture, it became an effective way to get around. Humans could now hold weapons in order to fight predators, run more efficiently, and hold heavy objects while still getting around effectively. Being bipedal also allowed humans to more efficiently forage, avoid predators, and use tools more easily (Watson et al., 2008). One problem with this idea is that there are obviously some individuals that do not believe in evolution. I am not going to argue the validity of evolution; however, it seems extremely unlikely that these problems would be present if we had always been bipedal creatures. While it is now clear that being bipedal offers humans increased efficiency in many of our daily actions, it is also the cause of many physical ailments and issues. Back pain and knee pain, as well as difficulty in giving birth, are the main problems mentioned when discussing this issue. However, bipedalism is said to also be the cause of many more issues, including increased chance of a hernia, hemorrhoids, and even varicose veins (Morgan, 1993). One of the most marked problems is the prevalence of back and knee pain in humans. Because our posture is spinally erect, each segment of our body is balanced on top of one another. Because of this, severe pressure is placed on the knees and lower backs from the weight of the entire upper body pushing down on the joints (Skoyles, 2006). There is a greater force exerted by gravity on the vertebrae and the knees, which causes many humans to experience pain in these areas. Another large Silhanek3issue is that of difficulty in human childbirth. In quadrupeds, birth is typically a quick and easy process. The birth canal is in line with the very wide pelvis, and the infant’s head is able to move straight outwards. However, in humans, this process is not so easy. Because we are bipedal, our pelvis opening is much smaller than those of quadrupeds, as our hips are closer together in order to make locomotion more effective. Additionally, the birth canal does not line up exactly with the opening to the pelvis, and actually connects at more of an angle. It also has a bony interior, which can make it hard for a solid infant head to make its way through (Gruss & Schmitt, 2015). It is often quite difficult for the large head of the infant to fit through the small opening of the mother’s pelvis. For this reason, many women experience severe difficulty in childbirth, called dystocia (Thorpe & Roberts, 2014). This can be a very dangerous occurrence for women, especially in developing countries, where alternative birth options, like C-sections, are not possible (Wittman & Wall, 2007). Women die quite frequently of difficulties during childbirth, and one of the main reasons could be attributed to the fact that we are bipedal creatures. If we were not bipedal as a species, and instead got around on all fours, we would likely not experience these physical issues. Because quadrupeds rest on all four limbs, the weight of their bodies is more equally spread between all of their joints. Less weight will be placed on each limb, as there are more limbs to spread the weight between, which causes less joint pain in these animals. Quadrupeds are also more easily balanced, and Silhanek4have less chance of falling then bipeds (Skoyles, 2006). Additionally, quadrupeds are more easily able to give birth than bipedal creatures. Their pelvises are wider than those of bipeds, and in line with the birth canal, so the infant is more easily able to pass through the birth canal and out of the body. Additionally, infants born to quadruped mothers are able to develop more in the womb than bipedal infants are, because their heads are able to grow more since they have a bigger passage to go through. It is a quicker and easier process in these primates than in bipedal humans, and there is less chance of problems in childbirth. Humans first became bipedal in a much different environment than the one we are experiencing today. As mentioned before, we first became bipedal as a species in order to more effectively fight back against our predators, with the added ability to hold large items, like weapons (Watson et al., 2008). Today, bipedalism is still an effective way to move around and function in our environment. We are able to quickly and effectively move throughout the environment, while also being able to use our upper body to carry large items at the same time. An additional advantage of being bipedal is that our brain size needed to increase in order to better control the erect balance associated with bipedalism; because of this, the thinking capabilities and capacity of humans increased as well. This has allowed us to engage in more complex social behaviors than other species are capable of (Harcourt-Smith, 2010). While this was not the initial purpose of the Silhanek5increase in brain size, it has helped us as a species further the development of our society.Being bipedal has been the primary mode of locomotion in humans for the past millions of years. While it allows us to easily get around and complete necessary actions, it unfortunately also has caused multiple physical difficulties, most specifically back and knee pain and difficulty in childbirth. However, after consideration, it is clear that the advantages associated with bipedalism far outweigh the disadvantages. We as a species would not be able to function as effectively or efficiently as we would if we moved around on all four limbs. Because we are not going to become a quadrupedal species, at least not anytime in the foreseeable, it is important to know that we are better off moving around on two limbs. However, there is a possibility we could attempt to lessen the negative effects caused by bipedalism. Varicose veins, hernias, and hemorrhoids are all fixable occurrences, albeit not pleasant. Back pain and knee pain is more chronic, but can be fixed through medication, shoes with more support, and in some cases, surgery. The problems with childbirth are more difficult to fix completely. While C-sections are an option, they are not always available to women, depending on where they live. Maternal mortality is all too common in developing countries because women are unable to receive adequate care and assistance during childbirth (Wittman & Wall, 2007). At this moment, there is not really any definitive solution to this problem. Until there is, it is important to remember the benefits we receive from being bipedal Silhanek6creatures as opposed to quadrupedal, while also helping people who struggle with the disadvantages of bipedalism. While the problems resulting from bipedalism are not pleasant, it is much easier to function in our current environment when we walk on two feet rather than four.

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