my son will hate you for this !!!
An anthropologist has described modern man as “the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet”, with even Arnold Schwarzenegger at his muscular peak no match for a Neanderthal woman in the arm-wrestling stakes. According to Peter McAllister, in Manthropology: the Science of Inadequate Modern Man, so …
I, for one, welcome our muscle strapped speedy neanderthal overlords.
When comparing these neanderthal amazon type women why didnt he compare them to modern day women? Surely the difference in muscle mass would have been even more pronounced?
And of course he does not go into the average lifespan of those guys, 40 years old would have been positively ancient to them.
BIG surprise no tech no brain ancient humans were stronger than high-tech much brain humans. SO a man that can run 37 unaided is more man then the man that can run 42 with the help of MAN invented aids? What exactly defines a man and what unit is used for manliness?
Pointless research has been redefined I think.
I'd like to see a Neanderthal woman of Arnie's age actually whupping him. Oh wait, despite or possibly due to her rather more active lifestyle she would be long dead. Same with the Romans. So were we able to go back in time and ask them if they would like to swap lifestyles with us I suspect they would quite happily accept.
Neanderthal lady may have been able to win the arm wrestle if she wasn't - whats the word? Oh yeah - EXTINCT
Simlarly the ability to throw an ironwood spear 110 yards didn't turn out to be all that useful against disease, disinterest and the occasional bit of lead poisoning.
Sure our kids would probably be healthier being sent to the communal school to live for 7 years emulating Sparta's happy training combination of starvation, abuse and buggary - but they'd probably live a longer and happier life playing nintendo and eventually becoming corporate lawyers (though probably no less evil)
However I wonder what infant mortality rates were during these times, and I wonder what adult mortality rates were, And further I wonder what lie expectancies were.
High, high, and low IIRC.
Its obvioous that stressing the human body during development results in greater physical development. I wonder how our brains differ ?
If _I_ had to hang out on a 'continent' infested with extra-large economy size crocs, six of the ten most dangerous snakes on Earth, assorted kill-crazy insects and arachnids, and whose waters abound with more extra-large economy-sized crocs plus lots and lots of sharks and killer octopuses and even killer snails (and damn fast killer snails at that) then I'd be able to run real fast too.
Although it's probable that m'man had accidentally ingested some of that hideous, should be banned by the Geneva Convention, mix known as 'Vegemite' and was looking for somewhere to chunder.
For example, I don't believe you can accurately calculate how fast someone was running from some ancient footprints.
Also, though most people are fairly sedentary nowadays, there are a minority who train hard, and that minority probably outnumbers the world population of Neanderthals at their peak.
However, considering how slow humans are compared with other animals, it would be no surprise if Neanderthals and other hominids were faster, and you'd expect them to be stronger from their bone structure.
Incidently, there's little real evidence that Neanderthals were less intelligent than modern man. I think the best evidence they have is that they didn't leave much behind in the way of art. But perhaps they were just less artistic ...
Evolution says "use it or lose it". Fair enough. But do we use our brains more than our ancestors? Have our brains got bigger or more capable in the last 2000 years? That's what I want to know.
And are we closer to ascension? And have I been watching too much Stargate?
Well, he's not running again--something about term limits, I think.
Given that the Romans put up stockaded camps every night, I'm inclined to doubt that the marathon-and-a-half was the usual march. Many armies have done serious forced marches of about that distance on occasion--the USMC once made a fetish of the 50-mile hike, I believe. And Cyrus's armies according to Xenophon seem to have averaged about the 20 miles that one would expect from modern infantry.
I await the refutation of the footprint & speed calculation, and doubt it will be long in coming.
..might not have had "the benefit of spiked shoes, a special track, a strict training regime, and money and glory to spur him on" but he might well have been being chased by a dirty great slavering predator, which I'm sure readers will agree is ample incentive run like the antediluvian clappers.
So what...This proves that we modern humans are smarter than the average ancient people of long ago. Just because one can throw a spear longer doesnt make them better it only shows what a human had to do to get his/her food back then, or to survive. Same can be said with all these super human observations.
We are a product of our society and society says that spear throwing, fast running, people are no longer needed. Right or wrong, thats the way things are. If you want things the way they used to be for humans, talk to businesses to let people have a 20 hour work week so they can work out and throw spears.
Ahh progress. How well would these archaic "super-heroes" stack up against a little technology, which is the result of using BRAINS instead of dumb brawn.
Caveman A can run 35 miles an hour using his body. We can fly 500+ miles an hour sipping a martini. Caveman B is a world-class arm-wrestler. How well would he do against a fork lift or a hydraulic press? Caveman C can throw a javelin 110 meters. We can "throw" objects so far they go into orbit, hit the moon, or leave the solar system entirely.
Not interested in this sorry repainting of the "noble savage" myth. Their lives were "nasty, brutish, and short". I'll take progress any day.
(And now the liberals and PC crowd will object because Ogg the Caveman can't get equal time and answer because he doesn't have a computer . . . )
This report is not always comparing apples with apples. Neandethals were an entirely separate species to homo sapiens. Although they were once thought to be our ancestors, it's more accurate to describe them as very close cousins. As such you might as well say gorillas are much harder than we are. It's true, but so what?
The comparisons with super-fast aboriginals, etc. are entirely valid. And as for women yanking my conkers during childbirth. Ouch! To paraphrase Jim Royle, I've done my bit already!
McAllister is an idiot. The reason we aren't buff he-men and women is because we're smarter.
As humans and human culture evolve, we tend to move away from "might makes right" and move towards "brains over brawn". Our ancestors (modern and ancient) lived in a world that was more out of their control.
We should promote moving away from "might makes right", and celebrate our increasing intelligence (or increasing use of, despite occcasional modern examples to the contrary).
I for one don't want us to roll back the time when the proverbial jocks were the kings of the hill.
They were conquered by those who were more technologically or tactically advanced; Brain over brawn. Let's see our Aboriginal friends throw a spear further or accurately than a modern rifle can fire, or a Roman legion defeat a single Army grunt armed with an M60 and 500 yards of open field.
I'd love to see the tacticians of the middle ages against our current lot. "Send word by carrier pigeon... Oh, they've already anticipated our manoeuvres! Send another word... They've done it again! It's almost as though they can send messages instantly over great distances..."
Survival of the fittest does not mean the most agile, strongest, or fastest. It's the one with the edge over the other.
"If you're reading this then you ... are the worst man in history.”
Unless he is planning to sell just one copy to the weakest man on earth, then this statement is just stupid and illogical. If the rest of his thesis is as well argued, then maybe that neanderthal woman could whup him in Philosophy 101 as well.
I follow on of those "odd" past times here in the colonies - Re-enacting (for educational purposes) the way life was in the colonies during the French and Indian War (Seven Years War in Europe), about 1754 - 1763. Several of us portray Simon Frazier's 78th Regiment of Foote, a Highland regiment mustered out of Dublin Castle in 1756.
When I started seven years ago, I was greatly impressed visting the sites and attempting to "keep up" with a "normal day's work" for the time, even though I had been in the US Army for six years. It took three years of carrying around the 200+ pounds of gear miles in and out of camp, twice-daily "battles" across actual terrain and living three days every week in the elements as they did with just what was available "back then" for three to eight months at a time to now "keep up".... But that still isn't a quarter of what they did all year long in the 18th Century (no farming, no marches across the Ohio Valley, no boats down the Wabash or Great Lakes, no real combat for your life, etc).
I do find I enjoy the "harsher" lifestyle; you just feel you are really living compared to our modern, removed lifestyle. From my mere taste of the lifestyle, I am not surprised "only" 10-20 percent of people lived to 40-50 years, with most dying off before 40.
I am in much better shape from just that little bit, and it showed how soft we have become in just a couple hundred years. Maybe its not too late to work our way back, one generation at a time?
Icon: Best smell in the world - Campfire, natch. :)
If this guy is a anthropologist writing in papers for peer reviewed journals then I will eat my hat. He sounds much more like a publicity seeking author for a sensationalist book.
Lets take a couple of the points:
1) Roman soldier was able to march one-and-a-half marathons in a single day. Well the Keswick to Barrow walk every year sees 12 year olds complete a distance further than this and the top competitors get home in under 5 hours - never mind a single day.
2) an aboriginal man running barefoot on the shore of a lake in New South Wales ... was sprinting at 37 km/h - not as fast as Bolt's top speed of 42 km/h. Well, who says the shore of the lake was flat? Most shorelines slope down to the lake. Running downhill makes a huge difference. Most fell runners today can outpace Bolt when charging downhill - and that is offroad.
3) A Neanderthal lass ... boasted ten per cent more muscle than modern European men. This point fails to point out a key fact. Neanderthals were a different species to modern humans or Homo Sapiens (not just men!) splitting 830,000 years ago. Modern humans are believed to have been a significant factor in wiping them out. Yes, Neanderthal's had much more muscle mass but modern humans are believed to have had more intelligence, for example only modern humans were able to use projectile weapons (i.e. spears).
Most of the above points he makes are structured to be sensationalist and therefore misleading.
Please Reg, apply a little of your famous and witty scarasm when reporting articles like this in the future.
Nice suggestions, but will not work for one simple reason - his survival does not depend on any one of them. In fact he is likely to become misadapted to his environment.
Anyone who had to suffer weekly keelhaulings on behalf of his offspring by a school principal because the offspring at the age of 5 can beat up an adult or has the endurance to run 5 miles will concur with me. I started taking him out for mile+ walks at the age of 1.5 to get his health in shape and get him out of an endless cycle of cold/antibiotic/cold and I lived to regret that 3 years later.
By golly, there's an IT angle to this! We need to be pedaling to power our datacenters, and then we'll put those Roman legionnaires to shame!
Hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail typically do about what the legionnaire did per day (35 to 40 miles), but not with the armor and sword and such.
This is not news.
Roman soldiers were renowned weaklings relative to Northern barbarians. They made up for that with better training, weapons tactics and discipline.
When the Vikings invaded in the 9th century they were feared as much for their giant proportions as their fighting skills.
Modern man evolved on the plains of Africa, when keeping cool whilst tracking game long distances were more important than lion wrestling skills. It is no coincidence that African runners win a lot of marathons.
Neanderthals needed to be be stockier and stronger because they lived in the icy north and had blunter weapons.
I wonder if "spiked shoes, a special track, a strict training regime, and money and glory to spur him on" are on par to "running away for things trying to eat you and running after things you are trying to eat"
I'm sure Bolt could squeeze out a few more km/h if second place had sharp teeth and an insatiable appitite for human flesh...
I would also argue that Schwarzenegger has a little more than 10% more muscle than the average man...
But hey, never let facts get in way of psedoscience!
I notice the anthropologists don't mention whether there were lion-like footprints close behind the Aboriginal footprints... ;-)
It's hardly a surprise though. I used to do a lot of long-distance walking, and it usually took me about 4 days to get up to fully fit. The longest I did in a day was 26 miles (Coast-to-Coast Walk across the Vale of York), and that only took me 7 hours and didn't overtire me. The main reason to stop was usually getting to a convenient campsite/pub which I'd chosen as the target for that night, not because of tiredness.
"The reason for our decline is pretty obvious: general inactivity and a lack of hard graft. "
So McAllister thinks.
Doubtless this is part of it. But there are other possible causes. One important one is this: modern people eat crap -- industrialized pap from the supermarket that's denuded of nutrients. They eat over-refined foods that have been grown on soil that's become depleted of minerals; they eat vegetable oils and margarine instead of butter; they eat too much sugar and white flour. Good grief, the average American eats 145 lbs of sugar a year -- which is why the average American is so fat.
And -- perhaps most important of all -- modern people don't eat enough rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, liver, and butter. Modern diets are drastically low in fat-soluble vitamins (such as A and D), because people have been scared silly about animal fats on the basis of bad science. But you need vitamin D for, for example, metabolizing calcium.
The sprinting Aborigine would have had plenty of good fat-rich game in his diet.
The skulls of pre-contact North American Indians were actually thicker than those of their descendants. See figure 27 here:
So much for McAllister's "The human body ... responds to stress". They weren't banging their heads on the ground.
What they *were* doing is eating sensibly: plenty of meat -- and fat-rich cuts such as organ meats and tongue at that, as the ethnographical accounts record.
Finally humans are not beasts of burden, flogging themselves to death hauling loads or doing grinding physical work. I'd rather smart, witty people creating amazing machines and art and games than manly men (and even more manly women) who can carry mastodons across the veldt.
Read about the Spaniard explorers in America, then go visit (in car) some of the places they travelled, without the benefit of even a gravel road or, for that matter, unending supplies of fresh water. The badlands ("El Malpaís") in New Mexico is a fine eye-opening example.
People used to be tougher.
...we had to chase down, corner, and kill a fully grown Woolly Mammoth with nothing more than a rock and a flint knife that you *made yourself* just to eat breakfast! You /Homo sapiens sapiens/ with your fancy brains and technology don't know what it was like!
Also related: http://badgods.com/primitive.html
@ "Usain Bolt's nemesis, meanwhile, was an aboriginal man running barefoot on the shore of a lake in New South Wales around 20,000 years ago. His footprints, preserved in the soft mud, show he was sprinting at 37 km/h - not as fast as Bolt's top speed of 42 km/h, but without the benefit of "spiked shoes, a special track, a strict training regime, and money and glory to spur him on", as the Sydney Morning Herald puts it."
or it was very windy behind him, or he was being chased by some nasty beastie - maybe one of the MASSIVE eagles that wree around back then? (would explain no massive footprints near him.) also the spacing of footprints means fuck all. maybe he swung from soemthing not there before? maybe he was some form of mutant? 1 finding doesnt explain anything - dont scientists know that?
plus, old neanderthal man might be stronger, but thats it. im better in every other way than him. to say modern men are useless is just stupid. they died out. i guess as our closer cousins used their brains to kill off the stronger less brainy ones??
also, why do scientists get to claim so many things from finding one skeleton? (ref the massive woman) i mean if they found john merrick would they assume we were all deformed? if they sound minime from austin power would they assume we were all 2ft dwarves?
@"Those parents wishing to restore the male of the species to his former glory have a few options available: start your son firing arrows from galloping horses at the age of two, the better to emulate deadly accurate 12th century Mongol bowmen; train your offspring to throw an aboriginal hardwood spear 110 metres plus (as did the original Down Under locals, putting the current javelin world of 98.48 metres into perspective); or reserve him a seat on an Athenian oar-driven vessel, whose crew could easily out-row modern oarsmen" - maybe if our children didnt spent 7 hours a day at school learning how to pass exams they might get good at real world things.
i also suggest that maybe a modern 10 year old would happily outwit a fully grown adult from that era?
Blimey! Not to pick a fight with myself or anything, but the article was about Neanderthal Woman, the correct spelling of Neaderthal was at the top of the comments page, and of course all Neanderthals are dead because they don't live for thousands of years. I think the word I was grasping for, and failing pathetically to find, is "extinct".
Three errors in one sentence. Perhaps the Prof was right and I *am* the most pathetic specimen of manhood ever to walk the Earth.
So what? They might of been stronger & faster etc..but we live longer, are smarter, can enjoy abstract concepts like art and philosphy and not worry about getting eaten. (Well almost).
Why hunt an animal with nothing but a spear if you can farm them and kill as required? Or go out with a gun and shoot said animal from 500 meters away? All the strength and speed is worthless against firearms...
"His footprints, preserved in the soft mud, show he was sprinting at 37 km/h - not as fast as Bolt's top speed of 42 km/h, but without the benefit of "spiked shoes, a special track, a strict training regime, and money and glory to spur him on"
Perhaps for balance we should put a sabre-toothed tiger behind Mr Bolt and see how fast he goes then.
Judging by the article, it seems that at least one Nearderthal survived until the modern age. I just question myself why is he writing pseudo science articles instead of winning gold medals at Olympic Games.
Paris because she would love a marathon of armwrestling with Usain Bolt
...compared to just about any critter out there weighing in at more than about 50 pounds.
We'll never, EVER be able to compete on the physiological plane with Nature. We'll always end up in the soup pot.
But put a bunch of us in a gang, throw in a brainiac or two, and look out nature!
"For example, I don't believe you can accurately calculate how fast someone was running from some ancient footprints."
And I don't believe you have ever heard of biophysics, and how they estimate these things.
Granted, there is sure quite some guesstimating involved, depending on the circumstances -- you have to know how long the legs are -- but it's hardly rocket science. If the individual was shorter than estimated, then the calculation will have underestimated the speed, for example.
"But do we use our brains more than our ancestors?"
I would hope so but would not want to bet money... :-)
"i also suggest that maybe a modern 10 year old would happily outwit a fully grown adult from that era?"
Maybe, maybe not. But I'd say the 10 year old would happily outwit the fully grown adult (?) who wrote your post...
and other mammals that we are not in family with. The Neanderthals, were not members of Homo Sapiens.
In fact the current theory on the extinction of Homo Neanderthalensis is that they were all eaten by the superior (thanks to brains, not muscles) Homo Sapiens. Brains rule.
Modern men are useless compared to their evolutionary ancestors.
Apes can out-climb men, shrews can out-burrow them (and see better in the dark). Fish can easily out-swim modern men and stay underwater for longer. The further back you go the worse it gets. I don't know why we bothered to evolve. I mean, just look at what we've lost.
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He must be feeling inferior to his fellow men, to take such a stab instead of just accepting the obvious, that it would be a gross waste of resources to build up one's body when there isn't so much hard labor to do anymore.
Note he never even mentioned what their average broadband connection speed was. ;)
"Chaps are then reminded that a Roman soldier was able to march one-and-a-half marathons in a single day"
One-and-a-half-marathons? Luxury! We used to have to get out of the lake at three o'clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!
Mine's the one with the Barnsley Chronicle in the pocket
The Neanderthal race was pushed to extinction by Homo Sapien - (yes, that would be us, we are all Homo Sapiens).
It is well documented that the Neanderthals were much stronger with more muscle mass, denser bones and a greater ability to survive in harsher climates. But our ancestors kicked their asses with their bigger brains, adaptability and advanced toolage.
So the article is correct in some ways, Neanderthals were stronger than Homo Sapiens, but it didn't stop us kicking their asses 50 thousand years ago and it certainly wouldn't stop us now.
Incidentally - It is thought that some Neanderthal women were accepted into Homo Sapien tribal units for baby making reasons (the good looking ones anyway). You can still see the Neanderthal DNA surfacing and affecting the features of some people today.
"Sure our kids would probably be healthier being sent to the communal school to live for 7 years emulating Sparta's happy training combination of starvation, abuse and buggary - but they'd probably live a longer and happier life playing nintendo and eventually becoming corporate lawyers (though probably no less evil)"
Exactly. ROFLMAOOLetc kthxbye.
In prehistoric times, nature surely would have favoured the strongest, fastest and most ruthless humans with the great majority of the weak/unlucky dying before reproduction. In the past 10K years we have organised into highly advanced societies, and developed sophisticated technologies, including effective medical care and pretty much anyone can live long enough to reproduce. In fact the richest, most sophisticated nations reproduce the least! I figure human evolution is taking a break, favouring lazy slobs for the time being until the next pandemic/asteroid/world war/climate change thins things out. It'll be the IT bods who figure out how to put the world back together again.
Off to the supermarket to stock up on baked beans...
"Incidentally - It is thought that some Neanderthal women were accepted into Homo Sapien tribal units for baby making reasons (the good looking ones anyway). You can still see the Neanderthal DNA surfacing and affecting the features of some people today."
whilst I appreciate this is a humours remake, just in case anyone thinks it could be true ... it is 100% certain that modern homo sapiens DNA contains no connection to Neanderthal DNA. We are *not* descended from them. As has been pointed out we're more like cousins to them.
"... start your son firing arrows from galloping horses ..."
Would someone point out to Mr. Haines (and innumerable others) that you SHOOT arrows - you do not fire them. You FIRE a gun only because in the early days of guns you had to apply fire to the gunpowder to make it work. Nobody ever applied fire to an arrow unless it was specifically a fire arrow, and then only to the other end.
What, when male egos are threatened they start spouting facts? Actually, I suppose rational argument is another of those stupid, pointless things that as a species we shouldn't have bothered with, not when we could have picked bigger muscles from the Spore creature creation screen instead.
No-one's disputing that Neanderthal physiology may have given them stronger arms than us, or that Roman military training gave their soldiers endurance that we haven't. What people are disputing, correctly, is that this is a bad thing and we should all feel ashamed.
McAllister's position is no different from a very regressed bully who walks up to people and goes "Hur hur hur, I've got bigger muscles than you". And gets constantly beaten up because having big muscles is not the same as being able to fight (as the Neanderthals would tell you, if they weren't extinct).
A lot of people here are mistaking average life expectancy with the age that most adults die. They are entirely different. People in ancient times routinely live in to their 60s and 70s.
Some years ago I read that the average lifespan of a Roman citizen circa 1AD was 21 years. Did this mean that a lot of people were dying around 21? No, most people who survived childhood made it in to their 60s. The difference is infant mortalty. Almost all of the advancement made in human lifespan has been by severely reducing infant mortality.
As several have noted Neanderthal man ( woman ) was a different species and would have been completely swatted by a gorilla, or a chimpanzee for that case. I note from elsewhere on the net that "whupping Arnie" involved the Neanderthal being trained to modern standards, fed on a modern diet and then taking advantage of shorter levers to win the arm wrestle despite having smaller muscles. Still, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
The tall ( sorry ) tales about the Tutsi leaping 2.5m+ are just silly. The world high jump record a hundred years ago was under 2m. If the Tutsi could really do this jump they would have been shipped off to Europe by their Colonial "betters" to demonstrate their party piece. Probably followed by the abolition of the high jump as a competitive event as it was clearly not a fit pursuit for white men. There are so many holes in this idea that I could write a book but surely sexual selection would ensure that Tutsi men would gradually get shorter. It's got to be easier for a 1.5m tall man to jump 1.5m than a 2.5m man to jump 2.5m. Since the Tutsi are IIRC among the tallest groups on Earth that doesn't seem very likely.
Which comes on the question of the kit carried by Roman soldiers, Medieval Knights and modern combat troops. And our jury says " the same". For the past 2,000 years or so soldiers have carried the same weight and slogged about the same distance per day. It seems quite likely that Homo Sapiens basic ability hasn't changed much in the past 50,000 years.
There can be no doubt that most people worked physically harder in the past and the typical level of strength and fitness was greater. The price was paid in crippled joints and years of pain starting in the early thirties.
On the other hand Homo Sapiens a few tens of thousands of years ago were ( I suspect ) just as intelligent as they are in the present day.
The whole premise of the book, that modern man is a degraded form of humanity is, ridiculous. People are people, good, bad and, mostly, indifferent just as they always have been.
The truth is out there.
"The most impressive track in terms of speed is T8. These footprints are 295 mm long
and 100 mm wide; the estimated height of the person who made the tracks is 1.94 ±
0.15 m (~ 6.4 ft), close to that of the T1 individual. The tracks indicate that this
individual was running the fastest of any person at the site. Pace length increases from
1.8 to 1.9 m over 11 m, indicating acceleration, and speed is estimated at ~ 20 km hr -1."
20 kph is a hell of a lot slower than Bolts 42 kph. If my math is correct that's a bit under 6 m/s. As a wimpy 49 year old I can do that easily for a short distance, say a quarter of a mile.
Clearly I am some kind of superman being able to beat these prehistoric athletes at my advanced age.