Saturday, April 4, 2009

Marathon Man

Seed Magazine considers the theory that endurance running is an adaptive trait hailing back to the period between australopithecines and modern humans. At some point around 2 million years ago, plodding, plant-munching Lucy developed into a fleet-footed bipedal locomotor, with springy tendons, powerful buttocks, and a mechanism for holding our head in place during rapid movement.

In other words, our ancestors was some runnin' fools.

New morphological evidence shows that shorter toes are also ideally suited to swift, long-distance trekking. Shorter toes, like those of Homo erectus, appear in the fossil record at about the same time as smaller, flesh-cutting teeth. Somehow, our predecessors had evolved to support a high-calorie diet of meat and fruits many, many thousands of years before the first spear tip, or bow and arrow. The theory suggests that we simply ran our prey to death, which is not so difficult, apparently.

“Running an animal to heatstroke is something that most humans can do, and that other animals can’t,” says [anthropologist Daniel] Lieberman. “It’s a compelling explanation for why these capabilities evolved, and frankly, nobody’s come up with a better idea yet.”
Man, I can't even run to catch the bus. Shit. I'm not sure this theory is where it's at.

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