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  #1  
Old 10-13-2008, 12:30 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Is it true that humans can outrun all other animals in the long run?

I assume we're talking about land mammals here, not albatrosses. I've heard it said quite a few times that while other animals will beat us in the 100 meter dash, we win the ultramarathon. Is it true?

I was thinking the big contenders might be wolves and coyotes, which seem to move in a very efficient trot that covers a lot of ground. Might the difference be that a wolf is never, given the option, going to run its ass to death, while a human isn't as smart? The coyote doesn't care about finishing the marathon and is not going to waste too much effort going after a particular food animal if there are other options?

Given that we're talking about exceptional human specimens here - long distance runners, spear hunters who are accustomed to running after game, even those nutty-ass ultramarathoners. Is there a land mammal that will over the course of both their endurances win the race?
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  #2  
Old 10-13-2008, 12:37 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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I've wondered this too, and would also think that among the top contenders would be wolves.

Large herbivorous herd mammals would be in the running too (NPI), except that I think that by trailing them, humans would disrupt their feeding patterns and so wear them down due to hunger. I'm not sure if that's the mechanism that's used in real life, but exceptional humans can catch game by outwalking/running them over long distances. I'd like to know if that would be possible with the wolf.

[hijack]Perhaps if you knew the likely retreat patterns of a wolf if you couldn't catch it by harrying it from one human sprinter to another[/hijack]
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  #3  
Old 10-13-2008, 12:42 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Those big herd mammals don't run and keep running - they sprint when they need to but mostly they eat a little, walk a little, eat a little, etc.

I found a great article that's about how we evolved to be distance runners, only we have butts instead of tails. link
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Old 10-13-2008, 01:03 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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We can't outrun all other animals, but we're no slouches. Horses can beat us if they're paced intelligently, but left to their own devices, they generally won't. Wolves are comparable to us. The champions, though, are probably pronghorns, which can maintain 70 km/hr for extended distances.
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  #5  
Old 10-13-2008, 01:05 PM
Charlie Tan Charlie Tan is offline
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The saluki is a long distance runner, and I believe the fastest land animal over a 5 km stretch.

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The Saluki is a natural athlete that needs a lot of exercise, including a daily, long, brisk walk or run. They are happiest when running, however many are lost or killed when they are allowed to get free. This very independent dog can never be off its lead except in an isolated, scouted area. These dogs hunt on sight. They will pay no attention to their handler's calls if they are chasing something. In some countries they are not permitted to be left off of their lead at all. Saluki run at top speeds of 40 mph (55km./h) or more with their feet barely touching the ground. These top speeds are reached in short spurts, but they also have exceptional endurance. They are not great for jogging because they will run faster than humans. An excellent way to exercise them is to trot them alongside your bike.
I've looked for a cite of average speed over long distance but haven't found one.

Here's a youtube link(ffwd to about 1.45, before that, they're just dots on the horizon). Judge for yourself.
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  #6  
Old 10-13-2008, 01:18 PM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
Is there a land mammal that will over the course of both their endurances win the race?
Define 'race'. If you're talking a non-stop no-breaks no-refreshment contest in moderately warm climate over flat terrain, the average camel will still be chugging along well after any human has dropped dead, just because they can go more days without water. Likewise a polar bear (or even an emperor penguin, possibly) will likely win at the the -60centigrade event while reindeer would presumably crush humans in the 'running through 30cm of loose snow' event. These are silly examples, but you get my drift.

Teh scientific basis for the 'distance runner' theory is espoused here. It seems plausible
Looking at ultramarathons, it seems the Badwater is regarded as very tough. It's 235km with the best time set at 22 hours, with extreme elevations. By contrast a horse endurance race is about 200km over two day-long stints, presumably in pretty flat terrain, but carrying 70kilos. So the humans make 10kph or so for 22 hours, whereas the horses do 20kph or so in ten-hour stints while carrying weights. I'm not sure how that would play out in the long run, but it would seem to me that running down a horse would be bloody hard work. Running down a kangaroo or a camel? No thank you - if those were the options, I'd stick to termites and grasshoppers for my animal protein.

Last edited by slaphead; 10-13-2008 at 01:19 PM..
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  #7  
Old 10-13-2008, 01:25 PM
Napier Napier is offline
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There's a perhaps related statistic I heard, that overall humans have about 4 billion heartbeats in a lifetime whereas other animals are about 1 billion. The point would be that our metabolic rate multiplied by our lifespan is very unusually large. I guess that's how we got to be the first to cause global warming.

No cite, tho...
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  #8  
Old 10-13-2008, 02:06 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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There's a perhaps related statistic I heard, that overall humans have about 4 billion heartbeats in a lifetime whereas other animals are about 1 billion. The point would be that our metabolic rate multiplied by our lifespan is very unusually large.
That's from an Asimov essay. I seem to recall, though, finding some numbers since then that show that the other great apes aren't too far behind us in that regard.
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  #9  
Old 10-13-2008, 02:08 PM
TJVM TJVM is offline
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I've usually heard this claim in the context of persistence hunting -- chasing down prey over a long period, until the prey is exhausted and can no longer escape. If this is what is meant by "outrunning," I think the feat is partly physical and partly mental. Even if the animal being hunted can cover more raw distance over time than a human, it will (as I understand it) typically squander a lot of energy zig-zagging around, while the hunter just plugs away at it. While the human has to be a good distance runner to do this, a critical factor is that the human can plan ahead, and the animal can't.
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  #10  
Old 10-13-2008, 02:13 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Relevant Discover article here.

Last edited by John Mace; 10-13-2008 at 02:13 PM..
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  #11  
Old 10-13-2008, 07:27 PM
phouka phouka is offline
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If the theory of the persistence hunt is true, then it's a technique that only works during hot weather and in climates that have hot summers. That's great, if you're out in the scrublands of Africa or northern Mexico. Not so good for ice age Europe.

It's a good thing we developed throwing spears. Makes life a lot easier.
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  #12  
Old 10-13-2008, 07:40 PM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
We can't outrun all other animals, but we're no slouches. Horses can beat us if they're paced intelligently, but left to their own devices, they generally won't. Wolves are comparable to us. The champions, though, are probably pronghorns, which can maintain 70 km/hr for extended distances.

Actually, I saw a film once showing a human beating a horse in a 50 meter dash. This human was a trained athlete, not just someone off the street, but it came down to a human, being lighter, can accelerate faster or be 'faster out of the blocks'. Beyond 50 meters the horse had the clear advantage.
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  #13  
Old 10-13-2008, 07:55 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is online now
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Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
Actually, I saw a film once showing a human beating a horse in a 50 meter dash. This human was a trained athlete, not just someone off the street, but it came down to a human, being lighter, can accelerate faster or be 'faster out of the blocks'. Beyond 50 meters the horse had the clear advantage.
Jesse Owens used to beat racehorses in the 100 yard dash, but a lot of his advantage came from having the racehorse panic for a second when the gun went off.
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  #14  
Old 10-13-2008, 09:57 PM
wevets wevets is offline
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It's a good thing we developed throwing spears. Makes life a lot easier.
I'm with you there! It's also a good thing we live and work in groups so somebody else can be on the other side of the prey, and we can corner it.
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  #15  
Old 10-13-2008, 10:24 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
We can't outrun all other animals, but we're no slouches. Horses can beat us if they're paced intelligently
Do you have any evidence for this? All the evidence I've see suggest that any human male in reasonable shape will outrun a horse within 24 hours. A lot of that comes simply because a horse can't run for 48 hours without stopping, whereas a human can and will. While a horse can sprint for a while and then stop while the human catches up they can only do that so many times before they are exhausted.

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Wolves are comparable to us.
Not really. There's a good reason why wolves are strictly a northern hemsiphere species: they can't handle the tropical heat. Ine temperatures over about 30oC a human will outrun any wolf inside 10km.
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  #16  
Old 10-14-2008, 04:19 AM
puppygod puppygod is offline
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Previous thread on the very same topic. Good info and discussion there.
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  #17  
Old 10-14-2008, 04:29 AM
Mr. Frink Mr. Frink is offline
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This American Life did an interesting piece on author Scott Carrier's 12 year quest to chase down an antelope. The show is called "Running after Antelope" (available streaming)
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  #18  
Old 10-14-2008, 05:20 AM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Do you have any evidence for this? All the evidence I've see suggest that any human male in reasonable shape will outrun a horse within 24 hours. A lot of that comes simply because a horse can't run for 48 hours without stopping, whereas a human can and will. While a horse can sprint for a while and then stop while the human catches up they can only do that so many times before they are exhausted.
A human can run for 48 hours without stopping? er...you're sure this is any person in reasonable shape and not some mutant marathon runner freak? I mean, I work out regularly and the idea of running for one hour period is wrong.
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  #19  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:05 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is online now
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So why did people ride horses everywhere if it's faster to run/walk?
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  #20  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:09 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
So why did people ride horses everywhere if it's faster to run/walk?
It's hard as hell, obviously. Run any ultramarathons lately?

ETA - and it's certainly faster over shorter distances to ride. The discussion only comes into play over hundreds of miles of constant running. Not to mention you can carry a lot more on a horse.

Last edited by Zsofia; 10-14-2008 at 10:10 AM..
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  #21  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:10 AM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
So why did people ride horses everywhere if it's faster to run/walk?
Horses can carry greater loads, including people, especially if you aren't in a hurry?
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  #22  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:22 AM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Originally Posted by Zsofia View Post
It's hard as hell, obviously. Run any ultramarathons lately?

ETA - and it's certainly faster over shorter distances to ride. The discussion only comes into play over hundreds of miles of constant running. Not to mention you can carry a lot more on a horse.
I imagine many of us are couch potatoes and aren't used to chasing down our food on foot, or walking long distances. But if you were raised in a society to hunt and track on foot, you could. I tested myself once and I could walk about 4 miles before tiring. That was over a period of a couple of hours. If I was bound and determined, I could probably cover three times that distance, if not more, in a day. While I'm young and in reasonably good shape, I've never run marathons or anything.
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  #23  
Old 10-14-2008, 12:34 PM
smiling bandit smiling bandit is offline
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I don't think people have to run to chase down the animals, either. We can just walk them to death. Humam walking isn't that fast, but we can keep it up for hours and hours.
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  #24  
Old 10-14-2008, 12:41 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Originally Posted by Napier View Post
There's a perhaps related statistic I heard, that overall humans have about 4 billion heartbeats in a lifetime whereas other animals are about 1 billion. The point would be that our metabolic rate multiplied by our lifespan is very unusually large. I guess that's how we got to be the first to cause global warming.

No cite, tho...
That's an interesting one. If we did have a fixed allocation of heartbeats though, wouldn't athletes, or anyone whose heartbeat is raised regularly, die earlier than average?
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  #25  
Old 10-14-2008, 12:52 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
That's an interesting one. If we did have a fixed allocation of heartbeats though, wouldn't athletes, or anyone whose heartbeat is raised regularly, die earlier than average?
Athletes, by training their heart by regular workouts during which their heart is indeed beating faster, train it to beat slower at other times, at least if not more than cancelling the temporary heart racing of the training out.
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:20 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Athletes, by training their heart by regular workouts during which their heart is indeed beating faster, train it to beat slower at other times, at least if not more than cancelling the temporary heart racing of the training out.
Hmmm...you'd think people with meditative skills which enabled them to slow down their heartbeat would live longer than average then, wouldn't you? Is there any truth to that?
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  #27  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:34 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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So why did people ride horses everywhere if it's faster to run/walk?
Kwai Chang Caine walked everywhere, never rode.
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:37 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
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Kwai Chang Caine walked everywhere, never rode.
Aye, but he only carried a flute.
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  #29  
Old 10-14-2008, 01:49 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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That's an interesting one. If we did have a fixed allocation of heartbeats though, wouldn't athletes, or anyone whose heartbeat is raised regularly, die earlier than average?
As I understand it, the heartbeat thing is just an easy to measure indicator that we live much longer than other species do for our metabolic rate. In other words, most animals in a sense live about as long as each other; some just "live faster" than others. A tortoise in this sense just lives slower than a dog, not longer. Humans are an exception; we live something like 2-3 times what an animal of our metabolic rate "should".
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Old 10-14-2008, 02:03 PM
tullsterx tullsterx is offline
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So why did people ride horses everywhere if it's faster to run/walk?
Didn't you ever hear the one 'bout the Runnin' Cowboy?
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  #31  
Old 10-14-2008, 04:14 PM
Darwin's Finch Darwin's Finch is offline
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Originally Posted by Napier View Post
There's a perhaps related statistic I heard, that overall humans have about 4 billion heartbeats in a lifetime whereas other animals are about 1 billion. The point would be that our metabolic rate multiplied by our lifespan is very unusually large. I guess that's how we got to be the first to cause global warming.

No cite, tho...
A cite. Though the human value is closer to 2 billion.
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  #32  
Old 10-14-2008, 04:30 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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This American Life did an interesting piece on author Scott Carrier's 12 year quest to chase down an antelope. The show is called "Running after Antelope" (available streaming)
And Scott Carrier is brother of David Carrier, mentioned in the Discover article.
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  #33  
Old 10-14-2008, 04:37 PM
tullsterx tullsterx is offline
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A cite. Though the human value is closer to 2 billion.
So, based on that metric, the only thing that comes close to beating us in a long distance race is. . . the chicken. . . I never saw that one coming.
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  #34  
Old 10-14-2008, 05:46 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Originally Posted by Darwin's Finch View Post
A cite. Though the human value is closer to 2 billion.
That's based on average lifespan (70-some years for a human). The figures in the Asimov essay were based on the absolute outlier maximum lifespan for various species, or a hundred and something-teen for humans.
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  #35  
Old 10-14-2008, 06:19 PM
Captain Carrot Captain Carrot is offline
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I'm with you there! It's also a good thing we live and work in groups so somebody else can be on the other side of the prey, and we can corner it.
Can't overestimate the utility of +4 flanking privilege.
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  #36  
Old 10-14-2008, 10:35 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Yeah, plus you get guaranteed attacks of opportunity if it tries to run away.
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