TOWARDS A REALISTIC MODEL OF HUMAN PHYLOGENY
Ten years ago, in March 1988, I founded the Center of Study and Research on initial Bipedalism
( CERBI ) in Nice. Since that day, indeed, several new facts - especially fossil discoveries -
have come up to support the phylogenetic model I once proposed.
The theory of Initial Bipedalism, meaning that the first mammals were bipeds, is quite embarrassing
because it just indicates the opposite of what most people usually admit : "Man is
descended from some quadrupedal apes of the Miocene forests...".
The theory of Initial Bipedalism leads us in fact to dissent from the current view of what might be
called the "simian origin of humanity". It emphasized on the contrary that our
common ancestor ( to all the mammals ) was bipedal and that the trait has been lost in other lineages,
rather than gained in humans.
How did our species really come to be ?
We suggest that man’s ancestral line went through a former phase of living in the water before climbing
ashore to become the biped hominid.
This kind of species was a new fundamental ontogenesis, with morphogenetic and plastic effects. Bipedalism,
basicranial flexion, encephalization, round skull and free-moving forelimbs,
can be explained by this theory. The first hominid was born.
Like the German anatomist Max Westenhöfer once asserted : man comes in fact from a stock peculiar to
himself, connected with the root from which all the mammals have sprung ;
modern man would hardly differ from this ancestral common prototype.
In quadrupedal mammals, the preservation of the large brain is countered by the development of dentition,
as jaws become more powerful.
Quadrupedalism is a further development due to specialization ( like the tree-life in apes ).
It is the derived strait versus ancestral features ( bipedalism, globular brain-form ).
In this regard, the apes - and also the fossil-known hominids like the australopithecines -
appear to be deshominized forms, branching out at several points from man’s family tree !
The theory of Initial Bipedalism allow us to reconsider all the different types of fossil hominians
which were previously accepted as the supposed links between the Homo sapiens
and his alleged quadrupedal ancestors.
Such deshominized forms, which evolved from our direct ancestry, are quite naturally
able to survive in remote parts of the world (wild men, "yetis").
In this way, different groups of homin(o)ids have followed their own evolution, parallel to man’s progression.
Some of them have been discovered by the palaeontologists.
Their still living descendants, all around the world, are indeed the cryptid hominians :
Almasty, Barmanu, Sasquatch, Orang-Pendek, large Yeti, small Yeti, etc...
The following chronological table shows us the development of
some lineages ( including apes ) from the human ancestral stock.
We are indeed incorrigibly curious about our origins, and also suspicious
when confronted with the commonly accepted ideas about human evolution.
Above all, a free-thinking spirit, without preconceived ideas, is necessary for the
study of our origin : it will be understood and explained only through an interdisciplinary
research : palaeontology, embryology, comparative anatomy, physiology, genetics and cryptanthropology !
A theory, like Initial Bipedalism, is a good theory if it describes - and explains -
a wide assortment of observations ; it must also be able to foresee the results of future
investigations, discoveries and analyses !
Indeed, the hypothesis that the apes issued from bipedal ancestors becomes more
and more relevant. We can emphasize that apes and monkeys are descended from terrestrial
creatures which were more man-like than ape-like.
In the case of Pan ( chimpanzee ), an ancestor was perhaps
already found by the palaeontologists : Ardipithecus ramidus. Its thin enamy implies that it
was a frugivor, like the extant African apes are. Its vertical insertion of the foramen magnum
denotes its bipedalism. As a matter of fact, Ardipithecus may have been the bipedal antecessor of Pan, or at
least it gives us a good indication of what could have been the aspect of this intermediary stage between the
man-like ancestor and the today living chimpanzees !
Another fossil, Australopithecus anamensis, also biped, could have been
at the origin of the evolutive radiation of all the other australopithecines. Contrarily to the usual
cliché, the more ancient Australopithecus was the best biped. And the descending
series ( A. afarensis, A. africanus, A. robustus and even "Homo" habilis)
is composed of more and more quadrupedal forms, through tree-living habits and steadily
continued deshominization !
If a descendant of the australopithecines is still living in the form of a "cryptid"
( yet unknown, hidden living creature ), it would certainly resemble a big ape.
Together with the 2 ancient bipeds, Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus anamensis,
modern Palaeontology has determined further species of ancient apes which were able to
stand erect and to walk on two legs : Dryopithecus laietanus and
It can be now duly established that bipedalism in Primates is ancient and that
diverse forms of bipedal beings once existed ( some of them are still surviving ). They branched
out from a more bipedal prototype.
Some palaeontologists claim that bipedalism appeared "several times",
independently, in the course of evolution.
This would be, of course, a "reassuring" solution, but inconsistent with the biological facts,
in regard to embryology, physiology and comparative anatomy.
It would also be in contradiction with the Principle of Parcimony ( Ockham’s razor )
that demands that the simplest explanation ( = Initial bipedalism )
should be preferred to the more complicated ones.
We have to rethink our understanding of human origins, apart from today’s arbitrary rigid
mindset. If taken seriously, the zoological evidence of an initial mammalian bipedalism would
certainly challenge the currently dominant views about human origins.
François de Sarre