Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why You Love To Run; It's Humanity's Best Thing

I find this sort of analysis fascinating:
But how did we get this way? After all, our brainy, tool-using ancestors could have just sneaked up on prey animals and brought them down with a spear or arrow. Why did evolution shape us as great distance runners?
The answer, argue Lieberman and Bramble, is that snares, nets, and really effective projectile weapons, such as the bow and arrow, were probably invented by Homo sapiens—modern humans. There's no evidence that early Stone Age hunters had weapons much better than sharp sticks. Such armaments would have required them to kill prey animals at close quarters, where they would have been at high risk of getting fatally gored, bitten, or kicked. Thus, they probably obtained meat mainly via "persistence hunting"—chasing an antelope, for instance, until it was nearly keeling over with heat exhaustion—and scavenging. The latter was very much a running game: When distant, circling vultures tipped them off about a lion kill, they had to get there before hyenas, which strip everything edible from carcasses. And they typically could only outrace hyenas in the hot sun. As a result, they carved out a new carnivore niche: the hot-day meat chaser.
Intriguingly, existing hunter-gatherers still sometimes resort to persistence hunting in hot weather. That's because the nutritional payoffs can greatly exceed the energy costs of running down meat for us fleet-footed types. In fact, our ancestors' meat-rich diets probably contributed to the evolution of modern human traits, such as small guts, small teeth, and big brains.


The other thing humans do well is locate something by sound - only owls can do this better than humans. Bats and dolphins use sonar, not quite the same as just hearing and finding.

At any rate, my fellow hot day meat chasers, if you love to take off and run, now you know why - it's why you are here.

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