Skip to comments.HUMANS WOULD BEAT NEANDERTHALS IN MARATHON
Posted on 01/29/2011 4:56:25 AM PST by Pharmboy
Humans, versus other great apes, are built for running fast and long as opposed to very impressive strength, but what about Neanderthals? If a modern human and a Neanderthal competed in a marathon, who would win?
(Comparison of Neanderthal and Modern Human skeletons. Credit: K. Mowbray, Reconstruction: G. Sawyer and B. Maley, Copyright: Ian Tattersall)
In a short sprint, the Neanderthal might have had a chance, but most fit humans would always win longer races, suggests new research accepted for publication in the Journal of Human Evolution.
Anthropologist David Raichlen of the University of Arizona and his colleagues determined that our modern human ancestors were better runners. The researchers did this by studying the hominids' fossilized remains.
Marathon Running Made Easy (Sort of)
Recent research suggests that the energy cost of running at a given speed is strongly related to the length of certain limb bones. The longer these bones (Achilles tendon moment arm and calcaneal tuber from the calcaneus) are, the more energy it takes for the individual to run.
The scientists' measurements of such bones determined that Neanderthals were lousy at endurance and distance running when compared to modern humans. The sturdy Neanderthal bones, however, were built for long-distance walking and strength.
Humans Left Trees 4.2 Million Years Ago
"Endurance running is generally thought to be beneficial for gaining access to meat in hot environments, where hominins could have used pursuit hunting to run prey taxa into hyperthermia," Raichlen and his team conclude. "We hypothesize that endurance running performance may have been reduced in Neanderthals because they lived in cold climates."
Since there is an inherent trade-off between speed and strength in species throughout the animal kingdom, it is likely that Neanderthals were built more for brawn, with humans evolving lighter, more aerodynamic bodies for running. (This doesn't take into account food consumption and other behavioral factors that can add heft.)
A hypotheical Summer Olympics featuring both Neanderthals and humans would have certainly been memorable, with Neanderthals probably acing events like wrestling, rowing and archery, and humans winning cycling, triathlon and marathon competitions.
In the real-life battle for survival, running and endurance must have won out for prehistoric humans, even when they encountered Neanderthals in Europe, but why? Hopefully future studies can shed further light on this present mystery.
They could probably do more push-ups than we could, ping...
Nice one...but hey, we’re giving you guys the strength events...
We could probably beat them at chess too........
Man, don’t let Obama hear about this. He will be demanding subsidies for Neanderthals....wait...too late...he already is.
The TSA is more homo erectus.... LOL
Probably not. Same brain size as infants. They had larger brain size as adults....
We might have beat them in a foot race but if they ever got their paws around our pencil necks, our earthly races would be run......
There has long been speculation that Neanderthals were fully adapted to temperate latitude ice age Earth, even having a bony protrusion in their sinuses to help warm inhaled air. However, when the Earth warmed, these protrusions could very well have contributed to lethal chronic sinus infections.
Those who have had such infections, lasting six months or more, will testify as to their debilitating effects.
And just fleeing north would be no help, because there is a big difference between cold temperatures with a long growing season, in what are now the temperate latitudes, and the short growing seasons in the far north.
Periods of darkness lasted much longer back then, because there was far greater tilt to the Earth’s axis. Which explains why so few ice age creatures survived.
The last flight I took the TSA guy said to me: “Turn your head and cough”.
It’s a good thing our ancestors could run fast. If the Neos ever got their hands on them, they would be toast.
“We hypothesize that endurance running performance may have been reduced in Neanderthals because they lived in cold climates.”
Well what about all those that lived in the Middle East? Was it cold then? What about the sea level - hundreds of feet lower then today — where any living on the beach, so to speak?
hypothesis, spypothesis the learned types still haven’t a clue
Good thing our Cro-Magnon ancestors invented the SUV to warm the earth.
In no way were they nearly as smart as we...their frontal lobes were much smaller.
LOL..Wait ‘til you run into the TSA agent that calls you ‘sweet cheeks’.
Need to await our resident Neanderthal (expert, that is), blam, for the answer to your excellent question.
There’s got to be a sizable government grant in here somewhere.
My response was to a poster who said that we could beat Neanderthals at chess. Actually, Neanderthal brains were larger in the occipital and parietal areas, those areas directly involved with spatial orientation. Larger frontal lobes have little bearing on winning at chess.
Well, then, they better not compete in the Olympics.
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It sounds like Neanderthals really got a bad deal. If they were alive today, they’d be at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, committing the most crimes and beneficiaries of affirmative action but, apparently, not very good in sports.
Still, there were giants in the land in those days ~ and if you dispute that “ye air’ gonna’ go ta’ tha’ Hell” as the neighborhood snake handlers would tell us.
Let’s see, the Middle East is pretty much as the same latitude as the United States ~ and there were people living there ~ so what is your point?
What about arm wraslin’ and beer can head smashin’?
Use it or lose it.
I've read that endurance wise, humans can out endure all other land mammals.
The San people (of Africa) track animals so long that the animals die of exhaustion.
They had a 10% bigger brain case than modern humans. Do not assume they were necessarily less smart.
If modern humans were faster and had more endurance, then Cro-Mags could hit a Neanderthal camp in a surprise raid, kill a few, and then run away. Then circle back and hit any pursuit after the Neanderthals were exhausted from the chase. Repeat until you run out of Neanderthals.
I've read in several places that early humans were built to be corsairial hunters, chasing prey until the prey dropped from exhaustion. This would allow us to keep up with a herd of prey, taking down the weaker members as they dropped or straggled.
NEANDERTHALS BEEN OPPRESSED BY DA (hu)MAN!
While many modern humans are bright and intellectually energetic, there is also that crowd which has become wasted by the cushiness of modern life. They don't participate but watch life unfurl on TV and movies and video games. They don't have to fend for their lives because of eternal stipends (initially from parents, then from employers).
Neanderthal man, OTOH, lived in a more violent world. Like animals in the wild, his brain had to be on perpetual "alert" or he would be killed by a competitor. He didn't have the luxury of "kicking back"...if he kicked back, he might end up as dinner.
Comparing the laziness of modern man to neanderthals might be best understood by watching cats.
A satiated house cat sleeps on its back in front of a roaring fire, large vulnerable abdomen exposed, with only distant dreams of chasing a mouse (his dreams most likely filled with images of chicken and tuna from a can...and the occasional treat of catnip from his adoring
Yet a cat in the woods, particularly if hungry, is intense and never more alive in its observation. Adrenalin pumping in its veins constrained by nerves and muscles of steel. Eyes dilated, catching the slightest movement of the natural elements, ears rotating to absorb the vast array of sounds, and its brain humming to process this mountain of data and boil it down into a single nugget of truth.
And which cat would win a competition which calls for concentration of thought, processing of information, and blazing speed, balance, and pin-point accuracy of mobility?
Athenians did beat Persians in Marathon.
Which is not to say that the Persians were Neanderthals.
Actually, the "giants in the land in those days" has been the subject of vigorous whitewashing out of Holy texts by well-meaning religious authorities of Judeo/Christianity (often such teaching is considered heresy and some rabbis of great authority have even pronounced a curse on those who teach it). And the concept of giants and fallen angels is not limited to Judeo/Christianity but, like stories of a Great Flood, are common in nearly ALL ancient religions, texts, mythologies.
I don't think any religion pushes the idea that acceptance or denial of "giants" plays a role in whether one goes to heaven or hell (and I doubt snake handlers have any knowledge of the sources of information on said giants--the Pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch comes to mind), but you do raise a very interesting issue with your mention of "there were giants in those days."
Funny thing that the Book of Enoch has been actively hidden by many, many religious authorities, but keeps popping up. Most recently, it popped up in the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran in 1946-1954...most inconvenient!
As a final point, let me add the these "giants" in question were said in ancients texts to be the offspring of fallen angels and the daughters of humans. They were powerful in a thousand ways and vile in even more. These giants (one of the many names for them was "nephilim") introduced such evil to humanity that God ultimately concluded that their DNA had to be expunged from the earth. His solution was the Great Flood.
These giant in question are the same as those mentioned in all ancient literature, from Greek mythology all the way back to the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Sorry...do not buy it one bit; chess is partially about space, but mostly about thinking ahead and sorting through move probabilities of your opponent.
See number 20 above...
We also had FOUR species of rattlesnakes available, and plenty of copperheads, and sometimes even water moccasins. I gather a good availability of poisonous snakes attracts that bunch.
Now, regarding giants, when the Europeans first encountered the Iroquois and Mohican warrior elites they realized things were going to be difficult. Seems that in raising up those elites for a life as warriors the tribes adopted in every large boy for hundreds of miles around ~ like our basketball teams do ~ and these guys were large, muscular and about 7 feet tall!
To your typical 5'1" Late Medieval white fella' they must have seemed like giants.
The Sa'ami from Mt. Keppel in Norway, most of whom were dwarves, must have imagined the exceptionally tall Viking warriors who were gobbling up the South shore of the Baltic to also be giants. Yet, a typical raid would have both Sa'ami dwarves and Viking giants ~ and a whole big bunch of rather average size guys as well.
Where was the neighborhood (generally) into which they moved? I presume it wasn't the Upper West Side of Manhattan (though I can imagine a very interesting sitcom from such a clash of cultures).
They follow me around. When I first moved here a guy a few blocks away was arrested by the state police when several of his black mambas got loose. He'd been raising them and other types of cobras for use by both American and Indian origin snake handlers.
There's stuff going on you just don't know about...........
Well, not surprising. Persians are great sprinters but are really poor distance runners...particularly the long hairs.;-)
If only I had known then what I know now. Life is a lot of things, but dull it isn't!
Don't know if we had any snake handlers...but wouldn't be surprised.
Read some more on the subject....
If you think the guy on the left could compete in chess with the guy on the right, well...what can one say?
Clearly, it is you who has to read more. Start here, for instance. The following is from the reference cited:
The brains of adult Neanderthals were a different shape than ours theirs were less globular and more elongated, which was the norm for more than 2 million years of human evolution, and is seen in chimpanzees as well.
"The interesting thing is within modern humans, the size of the brain correlates only very weakly with any measure of intelligence," he said. "It's more the internal structure of the brain that is important.
"And the Neanderthal, they were smart because they had a huge brain, but we think that internal structures must have been different because they grew differently, so we don't think the Neanderthal saw the world as we do."
One of my favorite bits from The Cartoon History of the Universe (highly recommended, BTW) shows early humans hunting down other hominids as they say, "We're smart! We're handsome! And we haven't invented morality yet!"
Ignorance is bliss.
ps, since I’m of Asian descent, I’m smarter than you are, for a variety of reasons, so you should continue this discussion with someone who’s intellectually your peer.... ;)
Racial/Ethnic IQ curves