According to a recent study published by the University of Utah, the ability for great apes (including humans) to walk on their heels, gives them an important advantage over other primates when it comes to fighting. Planted heels, argues biologist David Career, enables us to move with more force than if we stood on the balls of our feet.

Carrier’s studies look at the mechanics of movement in animals, and have important implications for our understanding of the distinctive evolutionary traits of great apes. Most primates walk and run on the balls of their feet, which favours speed, but may not be the ideal evolutionary trait for exertion of physical force. Carrier has a hypothesis that the planted heel stance that great apes have adopted, ‘allows the arms more striking force’ when fighting. 

Natural Sciences (Biological) and Biological Sciences applicants may want to think about the ways in which Carrier’s hypothesis can be tested. Applicants to Engineering should consider what bio-mechanical studies can tell us about the relationship between movement and force.

More Resources