Let’s just see how intelligent the design is. If you want to verify these claims or investigate further, just search on “bipedal disadvantages”.
The mother penalty is huge. Compared to apes, human birth is much more involved and fraught with danger to mother and child. The changes to the pelvis to walk upright penalize birth tremendously.
The leg from hip to knee is much more likely to be injured than that of the apes. The same applies to the back.
Perhaps not directly tied to bipedalism, but humans can get food down the windpipe because it is connected to the esophagus. Not true in apes. Defecation is much simpler for apes.
Humans get sinus problems that apes avoid.
We can’t grasp with our feet. I have some unpleasant personal experience with this problem. Many years ago while playing tennis; I had an intense pain in one lower leg. It felt like I had been shot. The wound healed rather well, but in the meantime, blood pooled at the bottom of my foot. Many years later, a doctor friend told me I had ruptured a planteris tendon, whose main purpose is to grasp with the foot. So we have the possible pain of the foot grasping apparatus, without the ability to grasp.
We are slower and weaker than apes. We can’t brachiate.
How did all of this come to pass? There are several theories. One is that we were created this way about 4,000 years ago. Then, some think that this happened millions of years ago when some of our ancestors in Africa lost their trees and had to get used to living on the ground. A related theory is that we are the survivors of ancestors forced to the ground by weakness. Maybe we just got away with a random mutation.
My conclusion is that if we are the result of intelligent design, the designer came in drunk on a Monday. Don’t get me started on the prostate or appendix.
So if I’m so smart, can I come up with something better? Yes, I believe that I can.
Check out the centaur model. It has the advantages of your basic four leg model, while allowing for the use of one our human advantages – advanced arms and hands for fine manipulation. Locomotion, defecation, birth all improved.
Possible drawbacks – lots of furniture and structures would have to be redesigned and we’d be stuck with doggie / horsey style.
A digression – it has been suggested that the idea of the centaur came from people who had not seen mounted horses before, and believed that horse and rider were one animal.
If I may go a little bit more radical, I want to suggest a few more improvements not featured on any living animal - yet. We are told that pain is the way that we are alerted to health problems. Let’s go the route of cars and other machines and utilize gauges instead. Another advantage that machines have over animals is modular construction. Fuel pump goes bad? Replace it. Our improved animal model with complete and simplified modularity – Arm goes bad, replace it. Wouldn’t it be easier to move an injured person if it could be done piece by piece? Hardening of the arteries – use non-poisonous circulatory Drano to clean them out. Healthy foods taste good, unhealthy foods taste bad. Skin stays flexible and wrinkle free, while being impervious to small weapons fire. Hair and nails quit growing when they have reached the proper length. No appendices except in books. I’ve just scratched the surface of truly intelligent design.
Doug Hawley, a little old retired actuary, lives in Lake Oswego with his editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber. His recent writer career has placed stories in Potluck, Oblong, Insert and Hash magazines.