Size and power required for motion with implication for the evolution of early hominids

W. J. Wang, R. H. Crompton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    The fossil record of early hominids (early human ancestors) suggests that their stature and weight had a tendency to increase, but their robusticity (the proportion of radius to length) to decrease. Using a simple musculo-skeletal model, this paper explores possible relationships between size, power required for motion (PRM) and cycle-time, deriving relationships which indicate that PRM per unit of mass and velocity is proportional to robusticity, but inversely proportional to stature. The results derived appear to be in general agreement with published data from physiological experiments. If the material properties of early hominids were similar to those of modern humans and the achievement of minimum PRM was the selective criterion, human stature might tend to increase slightly in human evolution (and, if selective pressures are not removed, might do so in the future but at lower rate). If mobility and stability under loading are the selective criteria, however, human size should not substantially increase in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1237-1246
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Biomechanics
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    • Fossil
    • Size
    • Motion
    • Power
    • Hominid evolution


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