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Front Page » June 14, 2011 » Opinion » The Wasatch Behind: Why leprechauns walk tall
Published 1,258 days ago

The Wasatch Behind: Why leprechauns walk tall


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By TOM MCCOURT
Guest Contributor

Darn, I should have been a scientist. There's money and humor in it. The National Science Foundation recently paid a biologist from a major university to do a study to find why humans walk on two legs. The results of the study were published in the Public Library of Science Journal.

I don't know about you, but I was surprised to learn that the National Science Foundation didn't already know why humans walk on two legs. I couldn't believe they had to hire someone to figure it out for them. But then, I guess it's a good thing to keep struggling scientists employed. It would be tough for most of them to find real jobs.

Since the days of Charles Darwin there have been a lot of theories on this topic. Anthropologists have come to believe that our caveman ancestors learned to walk on their back legs so they could use and carry tools. Religious people believe people walk on two legs because that's how God created them. Environmentalists believe people walk on two legs so they can hug trees. It all depends on your point of view.

Apparently the scientist who did this study needed a new and exciting conclusion to justify the scientific stimulus money he spent. So he decided that humans walk on two legs so they can be more aggressive. He says it was hitting other people that made us stand upright. That sounds suspicious to me, but we've got to give the guy a break. It was a theory that hadn't been published before and a sure way for him to get his name in the anthropology news.

Quick thinking if you ask me.

The author of the study tells us we had to stand up, because when people walked on all fours they couldn't hit each other as well. "Ancestral humans adopted bipedal posture so males could fight with strength in their forelimbs, making their punches more dangerous." The guy isn't talking about blows from a club. He's talking about blows with a fist. He's talking about primitive man before the use of primitive tools, cavemen too stupid to pick up a rock. He said he used eight or 12 (he isn't sure how many) boxers and martial arts specialists to do the study.

"Gee whiz," said Uncle Spud. "I ain't never been a scientist, but it seems to me that if we were four legged creatures and needed to hit someone hard, we should have developed horns like a musk ox. Wouldn't that have been a more likely evolutionary tion than standing upright and hitting with our fragile little hands? And, if we hit with our hands for enough generations to make us walk upright, why didn't we develop hands as big as boxing gloves that weigh 20 pounds each? Also, standing upright to fight exposes a soft underbelly, not a positive thing in the evolutionary scheme of things I would think."

"But wait," I said, "there's more." The study says, "The findings could explain why women are more likely to fall for tall guys. Taller men could deliver punches downward, thus giving them an edge in competing for mates and defending territory and resources."

"So that's what it is," Spud smiled. "Women like tall guys because they hit harder. Whodathunk?"

"The study also says the findings could shed light on the roots of human aggression," I explained. "The learned scientist concludes, 'we are a relatively violent species. If a goal (of modern society) is to reduce violence, we need to understand our evolutionary history.'"

"How profound," Spud said with stars in his eyes. "All this time I thought it was guns that made us aggressive."

"Not according to this scientific study," I assured him. "Weapons have nothing to do with it. Humans spent millions of years giving each other knuckle-bumps and that's what made us tall and good looking."

"I think women are at fault," Spud offered. "If not for those girls making goo-goo eyes at tall guys who hit hard, we'd still be four-legged little leprechauns."

"Leprechauns were not mentioned in this study," I assured him.

"They should have been," Spud smiled. "Irishmen were the first humans to walk upright."

"How do you know that?" I questioned.

"It all started when the Englishmen invented the wheelbarrow..." he began.

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