Athletic evolution: Comparing modern athletes to ancestral warriors

a e ba a e ba large
Credit: Heinz Ducklau/AP

Scholars have long argued that Neanderthal weapons were too hefty to hurl and, therefore, had to be thrust directly into prey. Compared with throwing from afar, this jabbing technique would have been high risk, low return — and could have played a role in Neanderthals’ eventual extinction.

But “in the hands of an expert, you see quite a different picture,” [archaeologist Annemieke Milks] says. “The spears perform well. They fly.”

Milks is not the only scientist enlisting athletes to answer questions about human evolution. Her experiment substituted javelin throwers for spear hunters; other recent studies have used runners to approximate ancient foragers and subbed in rowers for early farmers. With intense training regimens, athletes face physical demands more akin to our highly active ancestors. And some athletes push themselves to extremes — allowing researchers to study the human body in survival mode.

Related article:  Ancient African DNA reveals insights before slavery, colonialism
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

[T]he approach revealed the hard work of Central Europe’s early farming women. It seems their daily grind, 2,000 to 7,000 years ago, was as strenuous as the training of elite female athletes today. For a 2017 Science Advances study, Stock’s then-graduate student Alison Murray compared bone strength among 30 Neolithic women and present-day runners, soccer players, rowers and non-athletes…. “The big finding was, whoa, when you look at their arms, they were much stronger than even the rowers,” says Murray.

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend