On HumansJuly 17, 202301:22:2975.52 MB

23 | Walking Towards the Human Condition ~ Jeremy DeSilva

Humans are odd in many ways. But perhaps the oddest of our features is our upright posture. We walk on two legs. And we are the only mammal to do so. 

So why do we walk upright? And why does it matter? 

Jeremy DeSilva is a fossil expert and a professor of paleoanthropology at Dartmouth College. He is also the author of a remarkable book, aptly titled First Steps: How Upright Walking Made Us Human

[An audio version of First Steps is now offered to you for free from Audible! See links and eligibility below.]

DeSilva’s treatment of the subject is sweeping: while tracing the journey of human posture, he draws remarkable links between bipedalism and many facets of the human condition from difficult births to complex language and from lower back pains to the beauty of friendships.

In this episode, we talk about questions such as:

  1. What Darwin got right and wrong about the role of walking in human evolution
  2. When and why did we start walking upright?
  3. Why the common picture of human evolution is wrong - and what would be a better picture
  4. Why walking makes us fragile How our ancestors survived bone fractures - and this is a big deal
  5. Why human birth is so difficult
  6. Why walking is so good for us: introducing the “myokines”
  7. What studying the human journey has taught DeSilva about our species


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Names mentioned

Charles Darwin / Ian Tattersall / Donal Johanson / Mary Leakey / Sherwood Washburn / Richard Wrangham (ep 21) / Kristen Hawkes (ep 6) / Holly Dunsworth / Daniel Lieberman 

Mentioned hominin species

Sahelanthropus / Ardipithecus / Auroren tugenensis / Austrolepithecus (e.g. Lucy) / Homo habilis / Homo erectus / Homo sapiens

Read more

Check out the books below to dig deeper! You can now get one of them for free as an Audible audiobook.*

  1. First Steps by Jeremy DeSilva
  2. Ancient Bones by Madelaine Böhme
  3. The Improbable Primate by Clive Finlayson

To get your free book, set up an Audible account via the following link


You gain one free credit which you can use for a book of your choice.

* Offer is not available for current Audible customers.