(Screengrab from a Youtube channel 60minutesAustralia)

In Southeastern Turkey, the Ulas family has captured worldwide fascination due to their unique ability to walk on all fours, a phenomenon previously undocumented in modern humans. This extraordinary form of locomotion, reminiscent of a bear crawl, has not only baffled scientists but also prompted extensive research into its origins, implications, and potential insights into human evolution.

The Ulas family's remarkable journey into the spotlight began with a scientific paper authored by Turkish researchers, shedding light on this uncommon condition that affects multiple members of their family. Among Resit and Hatice Ulas' 19 children, 12 displayed a distinctive way of moving, walking on all fours. This condition was identified as non-progressive congenital cerebellar ataxia, accompanied by mild intellectual disabilities. Those affected encountered challenges when attempting to maintain balance while walking upright on two legs, leading them to adopt a quadrupedal gait that utilized both their feet and palms.

This phenomenon challenges the traditional understanding of human evolution. According to Professor Nicholas Humphrey, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics, who spoke with 60 Minutes Australia, "What sets us apart from the rest of the animal world is the fact that we're the species that walks on two legs and holds our heads high in the air... of course, it's language and many other things too, but it's crucial to our self-perception as different from other creatures in the animal kingdom. These individuals blur that distinction."

Professor Humphrey suggests that the Ulas family might provide a glimpse into a transitional phase in human evolution. While walking on all fours resembles the gait of chimpanzees, it could represent an intermediate stage that preceded upright walking. This perspective challenges the linear narrative of human evolution, proposing a more intricate process influenced by adaptation, environment, and genetic factors.

The idea of "backward evolution," raised by some scientists, has faced criticism, including from Professor Humphrey himself, who labeled it as "deeply insulting" and "scientifically irresponsible." This concept contradicts the notion that evolution is a progressive process primarily guided by adaptation to shifting environments.

While scientists persist in uncovering the enigma surrounding the unique gait of the Ulas family, we are prompted to recognize that the tale of human evolution is intricate and ever-evolving. As we delve deeper into our past, the narrative of our evolution remains a dynamic and evolving story.