While we live rather sedentary lives in today’s day and age thanks to our cars and office jobs, humans are still machines of endurance, while we’ll never be able to outpace a horse or cheetah, given enough time and distance, we can certainly overtake them – and it’s an ability that has shifted over into the many endurance marathons that people take part in around the world.
But why do humans have so much more stamina, and why has it changed us as a species?
Our Endless Stamina
When we think of our ancestors and the way they used to hunt for food, we often picture them sharpening long sticks and branches into spears and hurtling them at their prey. While this may very well be the story in some cases, the real secret to our success at hunting is our boundless stamina. Early humans learned persistence hunting some 2 to 3 million years ago, and we became unparalleled trackers, following our targets for days on end, far different to today, where we tend to run for an hour a day before heading home to enjoy a TV show or online Bingo UK.
And while the gazelle or other prey animals had no problem leaving us in the dust, the constant running eventually wore them down and made them tired. Our ancestors would track the animal persistently until they had worn it down enough so that it couldn’t simply outrun us any more, which is when we attacked. This form of hunting was so successful, in fact, that it’s believed early humans were the cause of the extinction of many different species of animals.
But What’s The Secret?
The secret behind out stamina is our ability to sweat, and that’s it. Most prey animals are covered in fur, whether it’s for hiding from predators or surviving in colder climates – whatever the case, having that much fur means that the body produces a lot of heat, especially when it comes to suddenly having to sprint to safety. Heat wears out muscles quickly, which is why cheetahs aren’t able to run for long distances.
Perfect For Running
At some point in our genetic history, humans shed most of our body hair, after which our bodies evolved the ability to sweat through our skin. This new form of heat shedding gave us an immediate and powerful advantage over just about any other species globally, and allowed us to quickly dominate whichever area we moved into. We have 2 – 4 million sweat glands all over our body, means that we’re able to run and keep cool at the same time. Other animals, such as dogs, need to pant in order to disperse heat from themselves, while buck and horses also sweat, but much more inefficiently.
On top of this, we are designed on a physiological level to run long distances, which are especially apparent when we consider the way humans run, taking long strides. Our legs are able to absorb kinetic energy extremely efficiently, which then allows us to convert it into potential energy that drives us forward while running.