When Sir Mix-a-Lot sang about big butts, there was more to it than just aesthetics. Well, maybe not for him. But, what the more scientifically-minded may already know is that he wouldn’t have been able to even physically sing the song if it hadn’t been for his own – and all of our own – ‘big butts’.
Evidence suggests there is an evolutionary line that links the maximus of our gluteus to our ability to speak and sing. The idea goes that humans evolved to walk upright by developing large tendons in our legs to power our stride, and large muscles in our bottoms that help keep us balanced.
This change in gait impacted on the connection between our spinal cord and the part of the skull that houses the brain, which meant there was less space between the spine and the mouth for the larynx, causing it to be positioned lower in the throat. This lengthened the vocal tract, which in turn increased the diversity of sounds the evolving human could produce.
And thus, Sir Mix-a-Lot didn’t just sing about big butts, he sang because of them.