How Humans Used To Hunt

Guy Running With Burning Stick

I had no idea what was happening here, but it happened. Jaffna, 2010.


In our pre-history, there’s this idea that humans were great hunters. And we are, now. In his article ‘Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd‘ David Stipp makes the case that we evolved to outrun prey and tire them out, not to rapidly hunt them down. Many animals can sprint and kill better than we can. Very few can run longer and more patiently than us, however.

The reasons Spitt outlines is that our legs and butts are just built for it, but also that we’re far better at cooling ourselves than, say, dogs, or by extension wolves. Dogs have to cool themselves by panting so they can’t spring for that long without slowing to both pant and breathe. Cats big and small also can’t run long distances at speed. The only thing that really competes is horses.

So what was the benefit of this? Well, rather than being the sexy and decisive predator that chases down and kills animals in battle, we were probably the kind that just followed them around and kept them from drinking or eating until they tired out and tired. Then we killed the weakened animal and scavenged the flesh before the hyenas came.

It’s not the most noble seeming past, but it is an interesting adaptation, and one that seems logical based on our bodies. Overtime our brains got bigger and we thought of new and compelling ways to kill things, but it seems that chasing animals until they got tired was a probable start.

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4 Comments »

2013-03-15 17:11:32

@indica like temple run or super mario

 
Chavie
2013-03-16 20:51:37

There was this really interesting story about how a family had lived in the wild, cut off from all human communications for 40 years. The son/hunter Dmitry was very adept at chasing prey for a long time and hunting it down.

“Lacking guns and even bows, they could hunt only by digging traps or pursuing prey across the mountains until the animals collapsed from exhaustion. Dmitry built up astonishing endurance, and could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders.”

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/For-40-Years-This-Russian-Family-Was-Cut-Off-From-Human-Contact-Unaware-of-World-War-II-188843001.html

 
2013-03-18 19:12:56

I haven’t really thought about this. But my initial impression was that this theory is wrong. If this is about hunting, why human females too are very capable of long-distance running? Early human females did not participate in hunting.

Men and women have different selection pressures. In the cases where hunting is involved, you can see a clear difference between men and women. For example, men are clearly better at spatial cognition. Men are decidedly better at ball games, even in games where physical strength is not a big factor. The gap between men and women when it comes to ball games is huge. You can’t find a similar gap when it comes to long-distance running. Men run faster, but women run almost equally well. In fact in some amatuer long-distance events, women actually beat men.

 
2013-03-18 19:15:24

I haven’t really thought about this. But my initial impression was that this theory is wrong. If this is about hunting, why human females too are very capable of long-distance running? Early human females did not participate in hunting.

Men and women have different selection pressures. In the cases where hunting is involved, you can see a clear difference between men and women. For example, men are clearly better at spatial cognition. Men are decidedly better at ball games, even in games where physical strength is not a big factor. The gap between men and women when it comes to ball games is huge. You can’t find a similar gap when it comes to long-distance running. Men run faster, but women run almost equally well. In fact in some amatuer long-distance events, women actually beat men..

 
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