We have all seen the chart of a prehistorical ape slowly evolving more and more into the straight-walking homo sapiens that we know of today.
The first sign of human life can be traced back to as far as 6-7 million years ago and by examining the amount of stress that was put on both the knees and the hip-flexors, it is safe to determine in which phase the humans started to walk straight.
The early human did not need to rely on walking straight because of the lack of need to go on long trips and walks.
It was more important for them to focus on the flexibility that helped them get around in narrow and diverse habitats.
The humans back then combined both the apelike and humanlike ways of moving until it was no longer viable to only rely on the flexibility aspect and the focus on being able to go through with longer transports due to climate changes started to take over.
The environments changed and the ability of the early humans to free up their hands to carry foods, tools and babies put a higher pressure on the need to walk straight. It also gave the early humans the advantage to appear larger and more intimidating.
A more obvious advantage of walking straight and on two legs was an increase in movement speed during hunts and whatnot.
Even though it was a long time ago since we started to walk up straight and on two legs, the side effects still haunt the modern human. Back pain and other types of skeletal problems are now, more than ever, an occurring thing in the modern society.
Distributing all our weight on just two limbs can have painful consequences, like lower back pain, slipped disks, arthritis in hips and knees, and collapsed foot arches.
Also our bodies are not fully adapted to the stress we expose our backs to, our non-active lifestyles and its consequences is a great example to why we’re experiencing different kinds of pain that haven’t been around that long, for example, the overwhelming number of people that deal with back pain as a desk worker, using tools like inversion tables to stretch out the body and the high demand for back treatment.
The Cultural Aspect
As we progressed, we started to rely on cultural aspects and technology to respond to different kinds of environmental stress. We no longer have to rely on thick skin or fur to keep ourselves warm anymore.
We can just put on some warm clothes and turn up the heat (and when the human learned to build a fire, the need of having a responsive body also decreased).
If we compare the homo sapiens to the Neanderthals, Neanderthals adapted more with their bodies, but modern humans used to culture and technology – such as bone needles to tailor clothing.
The genetic aspects of adaption are an extremely slow process that happens through generations of natural selection. This is a genetic response of complex variations that are easier to understand than to explain.
The result can, for example, be variations in body forms, physiology or skin color, that can be an adaption of a climate change or need for certain abilities as well as a significant degree of environmental conditioning.
There also seem to be a relationship between climate and body size. Populations that inhabit hot climates tend to be very linear in build, and human populations in cold climates tend to be heavier and stockier.
Of course, this is just one of many variables such as the cultural assets of food and good climates for propagation. So, it’s safer to assume that there is a mixture of cultural, physiological and genetic factors at work here.
Evolution is Still Happening and Our Bodies are Still Adapting to Modern Times
Even though it’s not technically wrong to think that evolution took place a long time ago, evolution is still very much at large. In fact, humans are evolving much faster than we have ever done before.
We have sped up our adaption to the modern culture by over 100 times, and It doesn’t seem to slow down.
For every time we create more mutations in our genes, the more role does the natural selection play from those mutations.
As we grow stronger in our knowledge about how the evolution works, a stronger mind-body connection arises that erases the line between physical and mental pain, which can be a big contributing factor to why our bodies evolve so much faster now than before
For example, we don’t have to rely on big jaws to chew through tough food, or sharp teeth to be able to tear apart hard-chewing meat.
What we do need is the ability to have a steady grip on the cutleries and be able to quickly adapt to technological changes that continuously happens in our ever-evolving society.
Like for example the wisdom teeth and the appendix. Today, we have utensils to cut our food. Our meals are softer and easier to chew, and since our jaws grow smaller, there just isn’t room for the wisdom teeth anymore.
Like the appendix, wisdom teeth have become vestigial organs. Around 35 percent of the population is born without wisdom teeth, and some say they will disappear altogether.