Berliner Boersenzeitung - How hunting may have turned humans into long-distance runners

EUR -
AED 3.987017
AFN 77.869411
ALL 100.412136
AMD 420.250791
ANG 1.954036
AOA 920.877782
ARS 965.218555
AUD 1.636733
AWG 1.95658
AZN 1.849627
BAM 1.956036
BBD 2.189165
BDT 127.17537
BGN 1.959782
BHD 0.408949
BIF 3112.176134
BMD 1.085481
BND 1.463977
BOB 7.491905
BRL 5.608903
BSD 1.084231
BTN 90.115691
BWP 14.73078
BYN 3.548229
BYR 21275.431322
BZD 2.185464
CAD 1.484016
CDF 3050.202536
CHF 1.000585
CLF 0.035751
CLP 986.469223
CNY 7.861099
CNH 7.882748
COP 4195.107015
CRC 555.867181
CUC 1.085481
CUP 28.765252
CVE 110.278328
CZK 24.653887
DJF 193.043331
DKK 7.471046
DOP 63.847717
DZD 145.87063
EGP 51.153182
ERN 16.282218
ETB 62.296329
FJD 2.461492
FKP 0.86415
GBP 0.857105
GEL 2.942078
GGP 0.86415
GHS 15.774907
GIP 0.86415
GMD 73.568531
GNF 9320.126419
GTQ 8.422018
GYD 226.837415
HKD 8.478807
HNL 26.793238
HRK 7.576611
HTG 144.147421
HUF 384.325891
IDR 17416.545692
ILS 3.972042
IMP 0.86415
INR 90.158711
IQD 1420.271652
IRR 45671.621447
ISK 150.01764
JEP 0.86415
JMD 169.680507
JOD 0.769502
JPY 170.371743
KES 141.4871
KGS 95.474262
KHR 4422.534502
KMF 494.599921
KPW 976.932742
KRW 1483.531255
KWD 0.333254
KYD 0.903509
KZT 480.208037
LAK 23205.804625
LBP 97091.034301
LKR 324.789254
LRD 210.122064
LSL 20.060106
LTL 3.205144
LVL 0.656597
LYD 5.253635
MAD 10.814807
MDL 19.234325
MGA 4804.580676
MKD 61.627448
MMK 2276.87518
MNT 3744.909859
MOP 8.725054
MRU 43.137434
MUR 49.996042
MVR 16.78195
MWK 1879.827194
MXN 18.127323
MYR 5.114249
MZN 68.932104
NAD 20.060102
NGN 1593.986117
NIO 39.904823
NOK 11.487496
NPR 144.185426
NZD 1.773228
OMR 0.41755
PAB 1.084231
PEN 4.05329
PGK 4.213509
PHP 63.179894
PKR 301.615653
PLN 4.264167
PYG 8154.985601
QAR 3.952784
RON 4.978238
RSD 117.16106
RUB 99.457256
RWF 1425.772317
SAR 4.07034
SBD 9.199654
SCR 14.818791
SDG 652.374563
SEK 11.793265
SGD 1.465512
SHP 1.371452
SLE 24.800317
SLL 22761.998832
SOS 619.810126
SRD 35.033367
STD 22467.269053
SVC 9.487147
SYP 2727.303897
SZL 19.933409
THB 39.775328
TJS 11.687813
TMT 3.810039
TND 3.385345
TOP 2.56695
TRY 34.950436
TTD 7.36289
TWD 35.002973
TZS 2818.940694
UAH 43.51826
UGX 4125.498603
USD 1.085481
UYU 41.725043
UZS 13783.665877
VEF 3932212.63556
VES 39.620872
VND 27648.291388
VUV 128.870487
WST 3.042705
XAF 656.036288
XAG 0.035773
XAU 0.000465
XCD 2.933568
XDR 0.818999
XOF 656.036288
XPF 119.331742
YER 271.75061
ZAR 19.993978
ZMK 9770.63718
ZMW 28.937497
ZWL 349.5245
  • SCS

    0.1300

    13.18

    +0.99%

  • BCC

    4.6500

    141.11

    +3.3%

  • GSK

    -0.0300

    45.12

    -0.07%

  • BCE

    -0.2200

    33.57

    -0.66%

  • NGG

    -1.0300

    60.69

    -1.7%

  • JRI

    0.0250

    11.395

    +0.22%

  • BTI

    -0.1100

    30.62

    -0.36%

  • RIO

    0.4300

    71.85

    +0.6%

  • AZN

    0.3600

    78.54

    +0.46%

  • CMSC

    0.1200

    24.24

    +0.5%

  • CMSD

    0.0000

    24.09

    0%

  • RELX

    0.5300

    44.69

    +1.19%

  • BP

    0.3000

    36.72

    +0.82%

  • RYCEF

    0.1020

    5.65

    +1.81%

  • RBGPF

    -1.8300

    55.21

    -3.31%

  • VOD

    -0.0300

    9.33

    -0.32%

How hunting may have turned humans into long-distance runners
How hunting may have turned humans into long-distance runners / Photo: CHANDAN KHANNA - AFP/File

How hunting may have turned humans into long-distance runners

Researchers have discovered hundreds of historical accounts of humans hunting prey by chasing them down over long distances, which some believe is why we evolved our unique talent for endurance running.

Text size:

While speedy animals such as cheetahs or antelopes may outrun us initially, over tens of kilometres humans can slowly chase them down partly thanks to our lack of hot fur and ability to sweat buckets.

Some scientists have even proposed that endurance hunting contributed to humans evolving bodies that are so different to other primates, which are not capable of long-distance running.

But the theory has been a matter of heated debate among scientists, with sceptics arguing that there are few historical examples.

Eugene Morin, an anthropologist at Canada's Trent University and lead author of a new study, told AFP that this form of hunting had long been "considered marginal".

But for the study, published this week in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, the researchers discovered many accounts "consistent with endurance hunting" dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, he said.

- In the long run -

Compared to many animals, humans are poor sprinters. While some of us can cover 10 metres a second for around 20 seconds, cheetahs can run three times faster for several minutes.

But Morin said that a "cheetah is like a Ferrari without a radiator -- capable of hitting very high speeds but incapable of dissipating heat".

This means that cheetahs, horses, antelopes and other swift-footed animals have to completely stop running so they can bring their internal temperature down.

This is when we catch up.

Humans can do this partly thanks to our incredible talent for sweating, which brings our temperature down, allowing us to keep going.

We sweat 10 times the density of chimpanzees, our closest relatives. Marathon runners can sweat more than three litres of water an hour.

Also helping keep our temperature low is our lack of fur, another way major difference between humans differ and our primate relatives.

Biologists have also found that humans' skeletal muscles are mostly made out of fatigue-resistant fibres, which help with long-distance running.

And traits such as longer lower legs and larger joints suggest that the ancestors of humans were running long distances at least 1.8 million years ago, according to the study.

The endurance running theory, first proposed more than 40 years ago, posits that humans evolved these unique characteristics as an advantage for hunting down prey.

Sceptics have said that running would have spent far more energy than simply walking after prey.

Morin acknowledged that running does expend more energy, but said this cost was mostly offset by the amount of time it saved.

The researchers used modelling to demonstrate that the energy gained from the meat of successfully chased-down prey outweighed that spent while running.

- 'Relentless pursuit' -

The researchers searched for examples of endurance running in a database they assembled of more than 8,000 recently digitised accounts of hunting dating back to the 15 century.

They found nearly 400 examples from 272 places across the world, from the Arctic to Chile, Africa to Oceania.

In a text dating from 1850, Native Americans spoke of their ancestors hunting moose by running them down while wearing snowshoes.

"Our young men were strong in those days," the text said. "Now our young are... lazy and feeble," it added.

In another text, dating from the early 1500s, the Coahuiltecan people spoke of chasing down deer and elk in what is now California.

"This, of course, does not mean that they outsped them, but that in a relentless pursuit they wore down the endurance of the game," the text said.

Morin said these stories had been overlooked because when ethnographic research started to "become professional" in the 1800s, the emergence of guns meant persistence hunting was largely a thing of the past.

However it is still carried out today by the San people in Botswana, who can chase down antelopes until the animals collapse of exhaustion.

Cara Wall-Scheffler, a biologist at Seattle Pacific University who has been sceptical of the endurance hunting theory, told New Scientist that the new study was "super interesting".

But she also pointed out that endurance running is mentioned in only two percent of the accounts analysed by the researchers.

(A.Lehmann--BBZ)