Photo: Human Ancestors Needed Short Legs to Fight for Mates, Study Says



An illustration of a male gorilla skeleton (left) shows the species' short legs in comparison to overall body size. Modern humans (right) have much longer legs and a thinner frame.

A new analysis compared leg length with markers for aggression in nine primate species, including humans and gorillas. The findings suggest that the human ancestors australopiths retained shorter legs for an unusually long time period because their stocky physique helped them fight for access to mates.

Gorilla skeleton illustration by Alfred Brehm/University of Utah; human skeleton photo by Phil Degginger/Getty Creative


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