• First Steps

  • How Upright Walking Made Us Human
  • By: Jeremy DeSilva
  • Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
  • Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (93 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Blending history, science, and culture, a stunning and highly engaging evolutionary story exploring how walking on two legs allowed humans to become the planet’s dominant species.

Humans are the only mammals to walk on two, rather than four legs - a locomotion known as bipedalism. We strive to be upstanding citizens, honor those who stand tall and proud, and take a stand against injustices. We follow in each other’s footsteps and celebrate a child’s beginning to walk. But why, and how, exactly, did we take our first steps? And at what cost? Bipedalism has its drawbacks: Giving birth is more difficult and dangerous; our running speed is much slower than other animals; and we suffer a variety of ailments, from hernias to sinus problems.

In First Steps, paleoanthropologist Jeremy DeSilva explores how unusual and extraordinary this seemingly ordinary ability is. A seven-million-year journey to the very origins of the human lineage, First Steps shows how upright walking was a gateway to many of the other attributes that make us human - from our technological abilities, our thirst for exploration, our use of language - and may have laid the foundation for our species’ traits of compassion, empathy, and altruism. Moving from developmental psychology labs to ancient fossil sites throughout Africa and Eurasia, DeSilva brings to life our adventure walking on two legs.

Delving deeply into the story of our past and the new discoveries rewriting our understanding of human evolution, First Steps examines how walking upright helped us rise above all over species on this planet.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

©2021 Jeremy DeSilva (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks to Listen to While Walking


Whether you walk for your health, a form of transportation, or to exercise a pet, you can get some mental mileage with your steps when you take a great audiobook along. These listens make the perfect walking companions. They can teach you about any topic that catches your fancy, or transport you to ancient and fantastical worlds. Whether you're on a treadmill, touring the neighborhood, or going to work, these are the best audiobooks for walking.

What listeners say about First Steps

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Excellent journey through human evolution

A fun and personable tour through human origins, meeting many of our ancestors, highly recommend!

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Fantastic

Well written, educational, and captivating! It’s amazing how much we can understand through the fossil record and through the stories of those who embark on journeys across the world to find those fossils.

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Loved this book.

This book is clear and fascinating. It sparked my imagination and uplifted me to learn about the diverse experiments of bepedalism in hominins. It's amazing to learn about different ages on the earth and the creatures that wandered on it. I enjoyed learning about other animals bipedality, such as the Carolina Butcher and the Giant Shortfaced kangaroo.

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Highly interesting

Well narrated. Very easy for a person without anthropology training to understand and enjoy.

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Mammalian Bipedalism's Many Layers

As DeSilva points out early in this book, bipedalism is rare in mammals other than humans. Apes and monkeys will occasionally walk on two legs, but not in the same way humans do. Why is that? There isn't a clear answer and since we're alone in this, we don't have other examples to study. But walking on two legs has fundamentally shaped who we humans are.

I appreciate DeSilva showing in the first few chapters how walking in hominid fossils has varied over time and that even our ancestors and other hominids didn't walk the same way. The search for fossil records to fill in more blanks in bipedal understanding continues, but our muscles and bones have also visibly changed thanks to what we have found so that it's becoming clearer when primates and human ancestors began to diverge in terms of movement. And the advantages and disadvantages of two-legged versus four-legged walking are very obvious when studying our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos.

The most interesting parts of this book for me were the discussions of birth effecting walking in humans and why we're so prone to movement-injuries not seen in other animals. I've never understood entirely why human childbirth is so laborious and potentially deadly compared to animals; a narrower pelvis and babies having to change positions to exit explains it some. So does why bone health is such a concern for older people and how muscles that we use (or don't use) for movement can be easily torn or dislocated.

I picked this book out of curiosity, but I am very pleased with how the read went and am more interested in the topic than before. I recommend getting this!

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a great listen while walking ;)

This is a great book to remind us through scientific research how important it is to simply walk. the history is very interesting.

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Fun and interesting

This was really fun and easy to follow. Lots of interesting info and theories, nicely written and quite gripping. If you’re a non-scientist interested in some paleontology, you’ll probably enjoy this very much (as did I).
The audiobook narrator was perfect for this.