Human Dinosaurs Psittacosaurus Went from Moving on Four Feet to Two

dinosaurs II

Christian Science Monitor reports that new research suggests that the Psittacosaurus, or “parrot dinosaur,’” went from moving on four feet to two about 100 million years ago, in a region now part of China. Walking upright on two legs might have made human dinosaurs.

Qi Zhao, a Ph.D. student at the University of Bristol and also a researcher at the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology in Beijing, studied a total of 16 fossil specimens of Psittacosauses that generally varied in age from 1 to 10 years old. Specimens of the 1-year-old Psittacosauses show that they might have developed like a modern human being, starting on all fours and then standing and walking.

The findings were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications. Indications are that Psittacosauruses had evolved over time from four-legged adults to two-legged adults, adapting to environmental pressures.

The Psittacosaurus has been dubbed: the Lizard King,” after a song by Jim Morrison and the Doors on the album “Waiting for the Sun,” which contains the couplet “I am the Lizard King / And I can do anything.”

We know that a significant event in evolution occurred when animals climbed out of the water to live on the land.  Mammals started out as tetrapods, or four-legged animals.  Most mammals are still traveling on four legs.  But a bipedal species has evolutionary advantages.  It has a better view of approaching predators, can wade into deeper water for fish, and reach up higher to snag fruit from the trees.  In order to stay upright (and keep moving), the hipbones in humans needed to be changed from a locomotive device (helping to use the back legs to travel) to a load-bearing one (keep the top half on top).  Bipedalism allowed reduce the amount of skin exposed to the tropical sun, which helped to avoid hyperthermia. It freed up our hands and arms for tool making.  This practice is s estimated to have started about 2.6 million years ago.

Bipedalism saved energy during locomotion, enabling long distance running and hunting.  Humans had to walk, because climatic conditions forced them to come down from the trees to the savannas in order to search for water and food. They had to hurry in order to evade predators. Or at least try to.

Bipedalism caused humans to develop bigger brains.  Encephalization refers to the tendency for a species to increase brain size through evolutionary time. The rapid increase in brain size occurred about 500,000 years ago.

But bipedalism may have preceded encephalization.  It may have started when Homininae, the tribe that includes the human clan, disassociated themselves from the Panini tribe.  The Panini tribe was composed of chimpanzees. Compared to the chimpanzee brain, the human brain is not only larger, but certain brain regions were particularly altered during human evolution. In any event, humans are the only Homininae that survived.

Dinosaurs might have been human, and humans dinosaurian, in their ability to stand up, but how did bipedalism make us particularly human?

The early bipedals eventually evolved into the australopithecines and later the genus Homo. Australopithecines lived between the Pliocene (5.332 to 2.588 million years ago) and the Pleistocene (2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago) epochs.  Homo is the genus of great apes that includes modern humans and species closely related to them. The genus is estimated to be about 2.3 to 2.4 million years old.

The best advantage of walking upright is that it provided more energy for brain development.   About two percent of body weight uses 20% of the body’s energy.  More available energy had the effect of developing the prefrontal cortex in humans, the area of the brain that governs executive functions, such as solving problems and inhibiting emotional impulses.  It permitted humans to interpret life and make predictions based on past experiences.  It also allowed them to ascribe motivation to others, which helped in the socialization process.  (John Medina, Brain Rules).  Humans began to gather together between 1 million to 800,000 years ago.  They were communicating by means of symbols 250,000 years ago.

Bipedalism may have been the time of sexual dimorphism in humans, which concerns the differences in the sexes.  Dimorphism is particularly evidenced by variances in their brains.  Men have larger brains on average than women, but women have a higher percentage of gray matter.  Comparing size to gray matter, the differences even out.  Still, recent studies have shown that men use more of their brains than women in the same mental tasks.

Strutting along on two legs might have increased the adaptive abilities of both humans and dinosaurs, and made them cousins, but dinosaurs gained extinction, and the human population grew from a few thousand to seven billion.


By:  Tom Ukinski


23 Responses to "Human Dinosaurs Psittacosaurus Went from Moving on Four Feet to Two"

  1. Gary S   June 30, 2013 at 7:15 am

    @James “dna is a computer program. . . you need a person to write the code”
    So, you never heard of “genetic” computer programs? Their behavior “evolves” to adapt to the properties of the data.
    But WHY was “Human Dinosaurs…” used in this dumb title???

  2. djrosen   June 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Teach your dog to walk on two legs and the dog will e more intelligent. Maybe do your income taxes for you. Drive the kids to school? Pee on the sofa?

  3. Brooklyn Reader   June 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    This article really is a shameful mess. It munges together vastly different time periods and completely unrelated genera. It’s a complete flight of fancy that engrosses the brief article that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor beyond all recognition.

    Bipedalism in Dinosauria emerged in the Theropods (which included Tyrannosaurus) at least 230 million years ago. Then there was that big extinction event that wiped most of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Their surviving descendants are not humans, but birds.

  4. Tom Foremski (@tomforemski)   June 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    It took us just 10,000 years to go from cave dwellers to the moon and more. And just a few million years of walking upright to get from there; the lizards had far more time to develop the intelligence that we did in such a short time… What’s the difference between the two paths? That’s the questions that this article raises.

  5. golden age   June 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I typically never leave comments on articles, but for this one I felt compelled. Absolutely terrible. Did Mr. Ukinsky even read the original article? If so, I would suggest that either Mr. Ukinsky has at best a tenuous grasp of the concepts of evolution and the scientific method or at worst Mr. Ukinsky is a flat-out creationist. In other words, not qualified to “report” on science topics either way. Mr. Ukinsky please refrain from writing on topics you clearly do not understand if you are not willing to do your due diligence in researching them. Where are the editors in all this? absolute trash.

  6. Mike McCarthy   June 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

    If Tom Ukinski is 12 and cut and paste this article from online sources I wouldn’t be disappointed in him. Well, I would if he was my kid.

    Seriously, stop Tom from writing any more articles.

  7. LSUkama   June 29, 2013 at 10:22 am

    This is one of the most poorly written articles I’ve ever read. Tom Ukinski does an absolutely horrible job of summarizing the article from Christian Science Monitor and babbles on and on about human evolution…when the article was SUPPOSED to be about a dinosaur. Also, was the paragraph about naming it “The Lizard King” and follow up Doors name drop really necessary? And did he really have to post the lyrics that said absolutely nothing? I’m sorry but this is just poor journalism.

    On another note…@hppy hippi: yes there is plenty of evidence which suggests that bipedalism and intelligence are connected. The main difference is it freed up two limbs and allowed us to creatively think of new ways to use them. And this site is not CSM, the author does not need to be Christian nor a scientist.

  8. AJ   June 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

    This is an unbelievably unscientific, terribly written piece of “journalism,” from the headline all the way down. Dinosaurs have nothing to do with humans. It’s kind like saying that a dog is a fish because dogs can swim. And all of the writing on bipedalism and human intelligence is speculative and controversial, far from accepted theory on how humans evolved. Please, find someone more qualified to write this stuff for you, or don’t bother.

  9. crazytsu   June 29, 2013 at 10:06 am

    New day new theory. New PhD paper. If they allow me, even I can cook up something like this. The last time it was about volcano, whose lava forced people to start walking on 2 legs, now this. All BS. Now why shouldn’t they be giving away PhD’s to all and sundry? Oh, I forgot.. the all and sundry are not fortunate enough to have the academic connections

  10. hppy hippi   June 29, 2013 at 9:02 am

    What a misleading headline. There is no connection between bipedalism and intelligence, nor were dinosaurs becoming human. Typical rubbish from a rag which is neither Christian nor scientific. Posters, evolution is real, creationism is false, period. Joe Mastropaolo is a fraud, don’t be such suckers.

  11. oneSTARman   June 29, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Apparently a Distant Ancestor of the shape-shifting Reptilian Overlords that rule our Planet today.

  12. Professor Fate   June 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Actually the link between bipedal posture and bigger brains isn’t really that strong even in human ancestors. – Lucy one of the earliest hominid bipedal examples and her brain wasn’t very big – and a lot of the robust hominids didn’t have very large brains either.
    and Daniel please, you’ll hurt yourself, it’s not healthy –

  13. hymie porkenstein   June 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

    ET’s created man.. and plenty of proof..ancient cuniforms precede old testatment and they ancient jews stole and plagarized the old testament from, the cuniforms and in teh cuniforms, it said man was created by ET’s.. but somehow people think an ET is god or some silly notion

  14. Matt   June 29, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Would we know if they evolved into sentient beings? Would we find their city’s in the fossil record?

  15. james   June 29, 2013 at 8:04 am

    dna cannot evolved. dna is a computer program. so it fallow the laws of computer programming. the first law you need a person to write the code. the code cannot be generated randomly.

  16. james howarth   June 29, 2013 at 7:52 am

    evolution is an outlaw theory—no serious scientist would deny the laws of science to consider this rubbish.

  17. Getting   June 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Very poorly written article .

  18. Adobod   June 29, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Evolution is a theory. Creationism is a hypothesis.
    I suggest you look up these words in a dictionary.

  19. Steve Berg   June 29, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I agree with the comment that just because something walks on two legs doesn’t make I human. Look at birds. They are not really not that intelligent at all.

    More interesting is the Creationism comment that follows, and how some humans get uncomfortable thinking we may have evolved from the muck and slime to what we are today. If one looks at the work of Mastropaolo, he hasn’t “disproved” anything except for the literalists and Creationists. Give them a few charts and a guy with “Dr.” in front of his name and the gullible believe everything. I see no conflict of faith between Christianity and Evolution. People at the time the Bible was written had extremely limited scientific ability and knowledge. They did the best they could, but they were wrong.

    As a Christian, the thrust is God created. We really don’t know how. And it really doesn’t matter. It does not suddenly invalidate your faith if we found out we were “evolved” rather than created. The Old Testament was NEVER meant to be taken literally. It is so scientifically inaccurate in so many places. The real blasphemy is to equate Creationism with Science.

  20. Matt Martyniuk   June 29, 2013 at 6:18 am

    I fear the author has confused this story with another recent story about a fossil species, . That’s the one with the Morrison/Lizard King connection. As others have noted, the idea that bipedalism is in any way linked with intelligence in animals other than humans is total nonsense and has nothing to do with the actual study of Psittacosaurus growth.

  21. Daniel Polar   June 29, 2013 at 6:17 am

    This is not science in any way. And furthermore this fiction is a disservice to humanity for anyone who doesn’t know any better.
    The ‘Hypothesis’ of Evolution is a fake, fraud and forgery as proved scientifically and legally by Dr, Joesph Mastropaolo.
    Please move on to something real and try and do humanity a service.

  22. 1111   June 29, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I feel as if Craig Dillon read very little of this article.
    “More was required for the development of our brain than bipedalism. Our hands had a lot to do with it.” Bipedalism is what allowed us to use our hands. Without becoming bipedal, we’d forever be quadrupedal and unable to over time effectively use our hands, which would have made that development incapable of happening according to you.
    Also, how is he, in any way, claiming women to be inferior? “Comparing size to gray matter, the differences even out.” Right there he tells you they even out. The last comment is a statement of a study that was done. It’s now calling women inferior to state that something was proven? He wasn’t rude or sexist in his statements in anyway, all he did was make a statement of a study done. It’s sad that someone should be private of their own knowledge just to keep others, like you, happy.

  23. Craig Dillon   June 29, 2013 at 1:35 am

    What a crock. This article incorrectly links bipedalism with intelligence. Birds are all bipedal, and they are not intelligent by human standards. More was required for the development of our brain than bipedalism. Our hands had a lot to do with it. Our social structure, too, I believe.
    The significance of the Psittacosaurus bipedalism is that the animal started life on all fours, and then became bipedal, unlike birds, or other Dinosaurs (as far as we know).

    The second to last paragraph is very odd. Is the writer suggesting that women are inherently inferior due to having small brains? If so, I doubt he is married, or if he is, he might find his brain impaired by a recent concussion.


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