A human baby needs a full year before it starts walking; while a newborn other mammal gets up on its legs almost directly after birth. Scientist unspecified that human motor growth is exceptional because our brain is unusually complex and because it is predominantly demanding to walk on two legs. A Lund University research group in Sweden has shown that human babies in fact start walking at the same stage in brain growth as most other walking mammals, from small Rodents to Elephants.
Opposing to conference, researchers used formation and not birth as the starting point of motor growth in their assessment between different mammals. This exposed surprising similarities among species that diverged in fruition as much as 100 million years ago. Humans definitely have more brain cells and bigger brains than most other global mammalian species, but with respect to walking, brain development appears to be similar for us and other mammals. Our study demonstrates that the difference is quantitative, not qualitative, says Martin Garwicz, a researcher of the research group.
Based on data about growth in other mammals it is therefore possible to actually envisage with high accuracy when human babies will start to walk. This is a very unexpected and challenging finding.
The notion that humans have a sole position among mammals is not only deeply rooted among lay people, but is also reflected in essential assumptions in different research fields related to human growth and human brain evolution.
Despite this, and regardless of differences in various species’ brain and body size, gestation time, and brain maturity at birth, the comparison shows that the young from all species start walking at the same relative time point in brain development. Humans may be unique, but not in this particular way. When the nervous system has reached a given level of maturity, you learn to walk, whether you are a hedgehog, a foal, or a human baby.