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A new study on wild chimpanzees suggested that the human ability to walk on two feet began up in the trees rather than on the ground, CNN reported.

Researchers from the UK-based University College London monitored the behavior of 13 wild adult chimpanzees in Tanzania’s Issa Valley. They explained that the valley is a “forest savannah-mosaic” that is comprised of dry open land and dense forests.

Such environments are similar to the ones early human ancestors inhabited, they added.

The team documented every time the chimps stood up, regardless of whether they were on the ground or in the trees. They then compared this with cases of chimps standing on two legs in thickly forested locations in other parts of Africa.

The data showed that chimps walked upright more than 85 percent of the time in trees rather than on the ground. Scientists also noted that the Issa Valley chimps spent about the same time in trees as their forest-dwelling relatives.

This suggests they were not more land-based, as existing theories suggest they should have been given their more open environment.

Co-author Alex Piel explained that the study challenges previously long-held assumptions that more time on the ground would force species to walk upright – such as in the case of early human ancestors.

The authors clarified, however, that the study is not drawing a direct comparison between chimpanzees and our hominid predecessors.

Still, it offers theories that must be verified against the fossil record to see what it reveals about the anatomy of early hominids.

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