Sunday, March 31, 2013


Ancient humans and Neanderthals walked or ran far greater distances than any human groups that followed, including more recent hunter-gatherers and today's long-distance runners, a new study has found. Fossils of humans and neanderthals display signs of extremely extended travel that occurred roughly between 120,000 and 10,000 years ago, according to two new studies published in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Researchers Colin Shaw and Jay Stock, biological anthropologists at the University of Cambridge, conclude that the Stone Age crowd moved around considerably more than southern Africans from a few thousand years ago who hunted over an area of 5,200 to 7,800 square kilometers. Even the highly trained athletes today who run 130 to 160 kilometers every week come in third in this mobility comparison, 'Science News' reported.

The study supports an argument for extreme mobility among ancient people and Neanderthals that has been championed over the last 15 years by Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St Louis and Christopher Ruff of Johns Hopkins University. According to Trinkaus, clues come from exceptionally robust leg bones, a dearth of older individuals in fossil samples, suggesting that life spans were limited due to the rigors of constant travel, and an absence of skeletal injuries in excavated fossils that would have prevented vigorous movement.

Researchers used a calculation of the lower leg's ability to withstand twisting and other forces to compare Stone Age hominids' leg strength with that of human groups with known activity levels. The researchers suggest that ancient human and Neanderthal legs substantially overpowered those of the hunter-gatherers, who had stronger legs than the other groups. Anthropologists do not know what kept ancient people and Neanderthals in constant motion. It could have been the hunt for sources of rock for their tools.


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