Our Male Ancestors Stayed Close to Home, While Females Wandered About

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At the outset, the researchers wanted to learn something about how ancient hominids used their landscape — that is, whether they covered far distances, or stayed closer to home. The goal was to discover whether their travel habits contributed to their becoming bipedal, since moving on two legs is far more efficient and takes less energy than using all fours.

But, as is often the case with science, they found something unexpected, a novel insight into the social behavior of our earliest human ancestors. It turns out that the males of two bipedal hominid species that roamed the South African savannah more than a million years ago were the stay-at-home types, compared to the wandering females, who went off on their own, leaving the men behind.

This surprising finding may not necessarily be an indication of early human feminist leanings, nor a declaration of female independence — although it might be, said lead researcher Sandi Copeland, visiting assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, who also is affiliated with the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany....

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