Our ancestors originally walked on four legs before they evolved and learned to balance on two. The transition marked a major moment in human evolution, and prompted scientists to find out the exact time frame in which it occurred. A recent study suggests that human ancestors walked upright about 7 million years ago. And, it’s much earlier than the researchers had previously estimated. The findings follow detailed analysis of fossilized thigh and forearm fossils.The fossils were found in Chad’s Djurab Desert, where a complete skull of a species called Shah of Chad Discovered in 2001, is said to be the oldest representative species of humans.

For the study, the team compared the found fossils to equivalent skeletons from humans, gorillas and chimpanzees. With this, they studied the mechanics of the bones and how the species used them.

They used different characteristics of a total of 20 bones to determine Shah of Chad Walk on two or four legs. The external shape of the remains and its internal structure were also imaged using microtomography.

Through the analysis, the team concluded that habitual bipedalism was the most likely scenario. This means that while this species used their hands and legs to climb trees, they preferred to walk on the ground on two legs.

They also noticed that the species climbed trees differently than gorillas and chimpanzees do today. This species uses a firm hand grip instead of resting on the toe bones and fingers.

“The curvature and cross-sectional geometry of the ulna … indicate habitual arboreal behavior, including climbing and/or ‘cautious climbing’, rather than terrestrial quadrupedal walking,” the researchers wrote in their study published in the journal Nature wrote in.

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The team believes the species likely lived in an environment with palm forests, forests and grasslands, where walked on two legs and climbed trees.

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Rebecca French writes books about Technology and smartwatches. Her books have received starred reviews in Technology Shout, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a New York Times and a USA Today Bestseller...