Friday, December 03, 2004

Born to Run?

According to a study appearing recently in the journal Nature, a major characteristic of early humans was their distance running ability. Study author and University of Utah biologist Dennis Bramble said that early humans' motivation for running remains unclear. Study co-author Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University suggests that the reasons might have included scavenging. "You could see a flock of vultures on the horizon and just take off towards them."

"Everyone says humans are bad runners, because when you think of running you tend to think of sprinting," Lieberman added. "There's no question we're appalling sprinters, but we're quite good at endurance running." He has gone so far as to suggest that running is the reason humans have prominent buttocks, measuring muscle activity while walking and jogging. "When they walk their glutes barely fire up. But when they run it goes like billy-o."

Of course, in discussing human evolution, it's enlightening to consider the many other human evolution theories which have exploded across popular culture only to be disproven, such as the "Eve theory," the "aquatic ape," the end of evolution, and the multi-regional model, many of which seem outright silly in retrospect.

Will this new theory stand the test of time, or will it go like billy-o into the annals of junk science? Or will it spawn a fad "Lieberman diet" for buttock reduction through inactivity?

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