Natural selection was hard at work changing the human body over the last few million years, and much of that selection was driven by the challenges of being a mom. I will present a brief review of the evolution of the human female body, focusing on how natural selection helped mothers cope with the biomechanical demands of being a pregnant biped, with carrying infants and food over long distances, and with giving birth to large-brained babies."
Dr. Daniel Lieberman is a Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University and Chair of the Biological Anthropology Department, while also serving on the Curatorial Board of the Peabody Museum. Dr. Lieberman is recognized as a leading expert on morphology and is especially interested in when, how and why early hominins first became bipeds, and then became so exceptional as long distance endurance runners. He is a member of the Leakey Foundation Scientific Executive Committee.
Harvard Anthropology Professor Daniel Lieberman postulates why human mothers give birth to such large babies. He argues that we live in a new energetic paradigm where the body can gestate the fetus for much longer than other primates.
Evolution of modern human beings from extinct nonhuman and humanlike forms. Genetic evidence points to an evolutionary divergence between the lineages of humans and the great apes on the African continent 85 million years ago (mya). The earliest fossils considered to be remains of hominins (members of the human lineage) date to at least 4 mya in Africa; they include the genus Australopithecus and other forms. The next major evolutionary stage, Homo habilis, inhabited sub-Saharan Africa about 21.5 mya. Homo habilis appears to have been supplanted by a taller and more humanlike species, Homo erectus, which lived from c. 1,700,000 to 200,000 years ago, gradually migrating into Asia and parts of Europe. Between c. 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis, sometimes called archaic Homo sapiens, lived in Africa, Europe, and perhaps parts of Asia. Having features resembling those of both H. erectus and modern humans, H. heidelbergensis may have been an ancestor of modern humans and also of the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis), who inhabited Europe and western Asia from c. 200,000 to 28,000 years ago. Fully modern humans (H. sapiens) seem to have emerged in Africa only c. 150,000 years ago, perhaps having descended directly from H. erectus or from an intermediate species such as H. heidelbergensis.