Persistence Hunting

29 Apr

Look at a human. We seem like such weak creatures. Our skin is thin and easily cut. We have nearly no natural weapons and our strength is meager at best, especially when compared to the physical muscle of a wolf, or lion, or bear. Many people point to our intelligence as our only advantage. And while intelligence is certainly the hallmark of our species, those people are mistaken. Few realize that, on a hunt, humans are just as terrifying as any predator.

But there’s a trick to it. If a cheetah’s attack is a lightning strike, a flash of sudden violence and energy, then humans are like a rockslide, slow and methodically unstoppable. Because humans are the master of persistence hunting, as the masterful Sir David Attenborough narrates below.

Humans, you see, cannot run fast, but we can run far and we can run for hours. Most animals cannot keep up a great pace without either tiring themselves out or suffering from overheating and dehydration. But humans have some unique adaptations. That hairless, thin skin that appeared so vulnerable is covered in sweat glands, which can whisk away heat and keep our bodies cool. And our upright two-legged posture is actually more efficient at a middle pace than a four-legged one. We can keep up a jog for incredible distances.

And many do. While the use of persistence for hunting is now restricted to a few subsistence hunter societies such as the San bushmen of the Kalahari desert or the Raramuri people of Copper Canyon, anyone who has run a marathon knows about human persistence.

Other sources: Wikipedia

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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Anthropology


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