Inferring the morphology of the last common ancestor of humans, chimpanzees and gorillas is a matter of ongoing debate. Recent findings and reassessment of fossil hominins leads to the hypothesis that the last common ancestor was not extant African ape-like. However, an African great-ape-like ancestor with knuckle walking features still remains plausible and the most parsimonious scenario. Here we address this question via an evolutionary developmental approach, comparing taxon-specific patterns of shape change of the femoral diaphysis from birth to adulthood in great apes, humans, and macaques. While chimpanzees and gorillas exhibit similar locomotor behaviors, our data provide evidence for distinct ontogenetic trajectories, indicating independent evolutionary histories of femoral ontogeny. Our data further indicate that anthropoid primates share a basic pattern of femoral diaphyseal ontogeny that reflects shared developmental constraints. Humans escaped from these constraints via differential elongation of femur.