by Conny Waters
possible that certain cosmic events
One of the most
caused humans to
start to walk
upright 4.2 million,
even 6 million years ago.
bipedal due to
Chris Stringer, a leading
anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London,
everything could have started with trees.
Stringer remarks walking
upright has many advantages.
freed the hands for carrying and manipulating tools. It allows
longer-distance walking and, eventually, endurance running.
Ultimately, it may
have been a key step that led our ancestors' brains to grow,"
Cosmic Explosions to Terrestrial Fires?),
published in the Journal of Geology suggests an explosion of
a nearby star may have contributed environmental changes forcing
humans to suddenly walk upright.
Researchers propose that an ancient
supernova that occurred about 2 to
3 million years ago could be responsible for a huge change in human
The energy from the dying star in the form of
cosmic rays may have dramatically
charged the atmosphere. This led to an increase in lightning strikes
which resulted in a spike in wildfires.
The fires which are
thought to be the reason for the leftover soot from millions of
years ago could have played a major role in converting large
portions of Africa from forest to open grasslands.
"It is thought there
was already some tendency for hominins to walk on two legs, even
before this event," said lead author Adrian Melott, professor
emeritus of physics & astronomy at the University of Kansas.
"But they were mainly
adapted for climbing around in trees.
After this conversion
to savanna, they would much more often have to walk from one
tree to another across the grassland, and so they become better
at walking upright. They could see over the tops of grass and
watch for predators.
It's thought this
conversion to savanna contributed to bipedalism as it became
more and more dominant in human ancestors."
Scientists say no such
event is likely to occur again anytime soon.
The nearest star capable
of exploding into a supernova in the next million years is
Betelgeuse, some 200 parsecs (652
light years) from Earth.
"Betelgeuse is too
far away to have effects anywhere near this strong," Melott
"So, don't worry
about this. Worry about solar proton events. That's the danger
for us with our technology - a
solar flare that knocks out
Just imagine months