Running on Two or on Four Legs: Which Consumes More Energy?

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Science  12 Jan 1973:
Vol. 179, Issue 4069, pp. 186-187
DOI: 10.1126/science.179.4069.186


Disagreement exists over whether man's bipedal form of locomotion evolved as an economical means for covering long distances. There is also some disagreement about the energetic price man had to pay to free his hands. In an investigation of the relative energetic cost of bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion in primates, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) were trained to run on a treadmill either on two or on four legs while their oxygen consumption was being measured. Both primates expend the same amount of energy whether running on two or on four legs. The relative energy cost of bipedal versus quadrupedal running should not be used in arguments about the evolution of bipedal locomotion in man.