Hunter-Gatherers’ Tree-Climbing Skill Sheds Light on Prehistory (The Boston Globe)


The Boston Globe reports that Dartmouth scientists may have shed light on a very old question: Did human ancestors leave the trees for life on the ground and never seek the higher dwelling place again?

The Dartmouth researchers focused their study on groups of contemporary humans, including the Twa of Uganda, known for their extraordinary climbing abilities and their method of climbing tall trees using only their hands and feet to reach the tree tops.

Associate Professor of Anthropology Nathaniel Dominy and graduate students Vivek Venkataraman and Thomas Kraft noted the ability of the Twa men to bend their ankles to extreme degrees, which aids them in climbing. Venkataraman tells the Globe, “It is similar to what you see in chimpanzees, the angle we measured. This allows the climber to get closer to the tree, reduces energy expenditure, and makes them safer.”

Read the full story, published 1/3/12 in The Boston Globe.

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