Human bipedalism entails relatively short strides compared with facultatively bipedal primates. Unique non-sagittal-plane motions associated with bipedalism may account for part of this discrepancy. Pelvic rotation anteriorly translates the hip, contributing to bipedal stride length (i.e. the ‘pelvic step’). Facultative bipedalism in non-human primates entails much larger pelvic rotation than in humans, suggesting that a larger pelvic step may contribute to their relatively longer strides. We collected data on the pelvic step in bipedal chimpanzees and over a wide speed range of human walking. At matched dimensionless speeds, humans have 26.7% shorter dimensionless strides, and a pelvic step 5.4 times smaller than bipedal chimpanzees. Differences in pelvic rotation explain 31.8% of the difference in dimensionless stride length between the two species. We suggest that relative stride lengths and the pelvic step have been significantly reduced throughout the course of hominin evolution.

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