It’s a Running Marathon: Do Neanderthals or Humans win the race?

Neanderthal - Human - Marathon - Has Science Gone Too Far

In the battle of Humans versus other great apes, we were better suited for running long and fast as opposed to being gifted with massive strength, but what about Neanderthals? If a modern human and a Neanderthal faced off in a marathon, who would win? 


Scientists have discovered that both Neanderthals and Human did coexist for a period of time. Of course Neanderthals did live farther up north from where we setup base.Whether they actually “ran” into each other or not is another story. So what do researchers suggest in this scenario of who would win in a race? A short dash, the Neanderthal may have had a chance, but most fit humans would always win the longer races theorized by scientists in the Journal of Human Evolution.

Anthropologist David Raichlen of the University of Arizona and his team of scientists determined that our modern human ancestors were better runners. Yup! The scientists did this by studying the hominids’fossilized remains.

Recent studies theorize that the energy expense of running at a given speed is strongly related to the length of particular limb bones. The longer these bones (Achilles tendon moment arm and calcaneal tuber from the calcaneus) are, the more energy it consumes for the individual to run.

The researchers measurements of these bones determined that Neanderthals were rather lousy at endurance and long distance running when compared to modern humans. The sturdy Neanderthal bones, however, were designed for long distance walking and impressive strength. Why couldn’t we have both for the sake of the gym?

“Endurance running is generally thought to be beneficial for gaining access to meat in hot environments, where hominins could have used pursuit hunting to run prey taxa into hyperthermia,” Raichlen and his team conclude. “We hypothesize that endurance running performance may have been reduced in Neanderthals because they lived in cold climates.”

Neanderthal - Human - Marathon - Has Science Gone Too Far

Notably, there is an inherent trade off between strength versus speed in species throughout the animal kingdom. It is likely that Neanderthal frame was designed more for brawn, with humans evolving lighter, more aerodynamic bodies for running. (So why don’t we like running?) Please note this doesn’t take into account food consumption and other behavioral factors that can add mass.

A hypothetical organized Summer Olympics featuring both Humans and Neanderthals alike would have certainly been memorable and impressive. Of course Corporate would capitalize on this and it would be sponsored by Mc Donalds just like the Olympics today. We’re thinking Neanderthals probably would dominated in events like wrestling, rowing, fighting, and humans winning cycling, triathlon and marathon competitions.

In the real life battle for survival, running and endurance must have won out for the early human race. After all, we’re still here and Neanderthals are not.

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