I like coyotes. At camp this week, I heard them yipping and howling at each other. I had a run some time ago where I was tailing a coyote and he was looking back at me like, “When is this guy going to stop running?” I kind of think of them as my spirit animal. As much as I would like to be a wolf, I realize I’m closer to the coyote.

Recently, I saw a coyote with one lame leg. It was running along as best it could. Three legs is enough. But two (for a coyote) would not work. Three points define a plane. So if you have four legs and one gets injured or goes lame, you can get by on just three for a while. Hopefully it would heal. You could make it on your own.

But a person who lost the use of one leg and was all alone would have a hard time. I am not an evolutionary biologist, but I pretend to be one when I draw conclusions like these. By making the transition to two legs, we made a compromise – two legs, standing and running – but if one of those legs gets injured, we rely on other people to get us through that rough patch. While animals that have four legs don’t have to rely on others when one goes lame. It reminds me of some findings by anthropologists of hominids who show signs of healed compound fractures. They see compound fractures in animal fossils. But not HEALED compound fractures. So for a long (long) time, we were willing to take care of each other while a leg knitted back together.

I felt a little sorry for that coyote because it was injured and it might be on its own.

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