Wild chimpanzee behavior suggests that a savanna-mosaic habitat did not support the emergence of hominin terrestrial bipedalism.
Bipedalism, a defining feature of the human lineage, is thought to have evolved as forests retreated in the late Miocene-Pliocene. Chimpanzees living in analogous habitats to early hominins offer a unique opportunity to investigate the ecological drivers of bipedalism that cannot be addressed via the fossil record alone. We investigated positional behavior and terrestriality in a savanna-mosaic community of chimpanzees () in the Issa Valley, Tanzania as the first test in a living ape of the hypothesis that wooded, savanna habitats were a catalyst for terrestrial bipedalism. Contrary to widely accepted hypotheses of increased terrestriality selecting for habitual bipedalism, results indicate that trees remained an essential component of the hominin adaptive niche, with bipedalism evolving in an arboreal context, likely driven by foraging strategy.