As in ancient ancestress, not evening.
Last night I happened upon the BBC Discovery Channel special on Ardipithecus, the earliest hominid for which a fossilized skeleton has been found– a young female nicknamed “Ardi”, unearthed in the Middle Awash valley in Ethiopia. They were expecting the missing link between humans and chimpanzees (our closest primate relative), but instead found a new creature with unexpected characteristics.
If I remember correctly, they were:
a pelvis that indicated she walked upright, and human-type hands which were not adapted for knuckle-walking, but feet with a splayed big toe that could grasp like that of a chimpanzee;
small, human-type canine teeth, rather than the large canines chimpanzees and other apes use in mating displays and fights.
An analysis of related fossils showed that ardipithecus lived in a woodland, not a savannah.
A multi-national collection of scientists took ten years to analyze all the data, which upset the theory that humans evolved on grasslands where they needed to be upright to run fast. The current theory, which I have to admit offers support to some of the feminist theories I have seen, goes like this–
Smaller canines indicate less aggression, especially when there’s less difference between the size in males and females.
If males weren’t fighting over mates, maybe that means females were fertile all year around instead of coming into estrus seasonally, and males and females pair-bonded instead of simply mating.
Females preferred males who could help them feed their young.
It’s a lot easier to transport food through a forest if you can stand up and use your forelimbs to carry it.
And that’s why humans are bipedal.
Among other things, this theory would suggest that we are somewhat less hard-wired for aggression than we thought, especially over sex….
For more information try: http://www.sciencemag.org/ardipithecus/, or
which has a drawing.