Friday, February 11, 2011

ESPN: "Slow And Steady Wins The Planet"

ESPN reviews the Running Man hypothesis:

"The idea gained little traction in the scientific community. For starters, it went against every anthropology textbook ever printed. Years later, when the theory was first mentioned to C. Richard Taylor of Harvard, one of the world's leading experts on animal locomotion, he thought the whole thing sounded, in a word, "stupid." Evolution suggests that animals who have adapted best to their environment develop an advantage as a species. What advantage could running hold for humans who, over short distances, are among the slowest mammals? Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, would get caught by a lion in less than 20 seconds. Looking at raw speed instead of relative speed or endurance, it was hard to see a competitive upside for primitive man to run....

"...Opponents suggest that millions of years ago, the African plains were too lush to run through, that the theory overemphasizes the importance of meat in primitive man's diet and development, that most of the physiological markers could have been for walking, not running, and that the energy cost for chasing an antelope would have far exceeded the calories gained by consuming the meat. "Utter rubbish," says Noakes. "Scientists learn one way, and the cost and energy of changing that thinking becomes so high it is not feasible for them. When you take all this data in with an open mind, there's just no other explanation: We evolved as runners." It's a conclusion that gets even harder to argue while watching the predatory runners of the !Xo San tribe in action. For hours, the running men float effortlessly, like ghosts, across one of the harshest climates on earth. And when they see erratic tracks in the sand indicating that the kudu is tiring, they lock on to their prey like a guided missile. They call themselves "sons of the first people," and their focus seems almost primordial."

A good overview if you're not familiar with it.  Can someone please forward it to Art De Vany?

And what a great image...

Here is the documentary The Great Dance, A Hunter's Story mentioned in the article:

P.S. OK, I deleted the darn embed text for the trailer of the movie, because it auto-played when the page loaded. I despise pages that automatically make sounds when you load them: it's just obnoxious.

So if you want to see the trailer, and it's cool, check out the link above. You can download the movie for $3.99, which I'm going to do when I get home.

P.P.S. Here's the whole movie, for free, embedded, without autoplay. Thanks, Josh.