Home » Human evolution, Intelligent Design » Did humans evolve to “outrun the fastest animals on earth”?

Did humans evolve to “outrun the fastest animals on earth”?

Pronghorn Antelope - USFWS

pronghorn antelope, considered fastest distance runner

At Outside Online (“Fair Chase,”May 2011), Charles Bethea tells us

On the plains of New Mexico, a band of elite marathoners tests a controversial theory of evolution: that humans can outrun the fastest animals on earth.

Controversial? Yes, apparently:

As ridiculous as this spectacle might appear, the men are testing a much-debated scientific notion about when and how humans became hunters. Between two and three million years ago, when our australopithecine ancestors ventured out of the forests and onto the protein-rich African savanna, they were prey more often than hunter. They gathered plant-based foods, just as their primate brethren did. Then something changed. They began running after game with long, steady strides. Evolutionary biologists like Harvard’s Dan Lieberman think the uniquely human capacity for endurance running is a distant remnant of prehistoric persistence hunting.

You’ll have to read the article to see if the runners succeeded and whether they think they proved something (another story).

In many places, it is conventional wisdom that a man can outrun a horse if the contest is for endurance, not initial speed. The horse is adapted for sudden bursts of speed, not for carefully husbanding his strength over a marathon (he wouldn’t even know he was in a marathon). A man, by contrast, knows he is in for a long distance and adopts a strategy, based on intelligent observation. In that case, the evolution, if any, was the development of enough intelligence to make a long term strategy work.

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3 Responses to Did humans evolve to “outrun the fastest animals on earth”?

  1. Between two and three million years ago, when our australopithecine ancestors ventured out of the forests and onto the protein-rich African savanna, they were prey more often than hunter. They gathered plant-based foods, just as their primate brethren did. Then something changed. They began running after game with long, steady strides.

    More fact-free “science.”

  2. Mung:

    “More fact-free “science.””

    Read the paper first to see if that’s true.

  3. I read the paper. The portion Mung quoted is indeed fact free “just so” story telling.

    It is a fact that certain humans hunt by running after their prey for hours. Humans, however, can run for days</i. Humans have an excess of abilities and traits than can be explained as being created by selective forces. That won't stop evolutionists from claiming "bad design" and telling imaginative "just so" stories to explain the amazing abilities humans possess. After all, evolution is only limited by the imagination.

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