Science & Tech

Ancient humans developed the ability to run faster by hunting prey

Ancient humans developed the ability to run faster by hunting prey
Study Suggests Early Risers May Have Neanderthal DNA
Money Talks News / VideoElephant

The Olympics are right round the corner, and as you’re turning into the 100m final later this summer, you might ask yourself – how did humans get so quick?

Well, a new study has been published which might just answer that, with the findings in a research paper published in the journal Nature Human Behavior suggesting that running endurance and speed has links all the way back to early humans and their hunting practices.

The new research claims that it was the ancient humans that had the stamina to run after prey over extended distances that would be the most successful in the long term.

This way, they were able to consume more calories and protein for themselves and those depending on them for food.


The experts claim that, therefore, those early humans who could run faster and for longer would have been favoured by evolution over the course of centuries.

The study went about establishing this hypothesis through the study of ethnographic literature, dating between the 16th to 21st centuries, which featured info on the behaviours of more contemporary indigenous peoples.

More than 8,000 texts were studied as part of the research. Eventually, the experts came to the conclusion, after referencing 391 reports that described such behaviour, that indigenous hunters found success after catching herds of animals that had stopped or slowed down due to exhaustion – a technique known as persistence hunting.

Dr. Bruce Winterhalder is one of the study co-authors. He told Science: “It’s probably a lot more ubiquitous than we understood. When [persistence hunting] does work, it’s just as good, or maybe better, than other techniques.”

Their findings were supported by Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary biologist from Harvard University, who told the publication: “Nobody else has come up with any other explanation for why humans evolved to run long distances.”

Sign up for our free indy100 weekly newsletter

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings

The Conversation (0)