Cool video: persistence hunting

The theory that humans are specifically adapted to running huge distances is somehow fascinating to me. In that vein, I just came across this video of tribesmen in Africa running down a kudu. The chase lasts for eight hours until the animal collapses from exhaustion.

I have heard this before, that the the one physical thing that humans do better than any other animal is long-distance running. I have never heard confirmation of it until now. Maybe the other thing we do better now is carry our food around on our bodies in the form of fat. :slight_smile:

Is that the one where they make little kudu shapes with their hands so they can get inside its head and work out which way it’d run?

When you see them pounding along hour after hour you do realise how well we are adapted for that type of hunting.

I don’t see the video on that page, but I found it on Youtube, searching for “persistence hunt”.

That’s pretty cool. I often wander what it’s like to have to hunt for your food. If you don’t run, you don’t eat. Something tells me I’d never make it out there. I’m a wimp in the heat.

You think that’s impressive? The modern tribes of Africa got nuthin on the aboriginal tribes of Australia. As documented in the new book "Manthropology

I feel ambivalent about this. On the one hand, we’re clearly moving away from our animalistic heritage, and that’s to the good, but are we going to wake up in a few hundred years and realize that we’ve squandered our physiques just like we’ve squandered many of our natural resources?


What do we need such physical abilities for? We’ve outgrown its usefulness.

Great video clip Capt! Very interesting to this hunter.

I would image that this persistance hunting method would work well in open areas like the African savannah or Australian outback better than in forested areas with less flat terrain.

Since the ‘out of Africa’ source of modern humans seems to have the most evidence, this sort of hunting could well explain the success of bipedalism. (walking/running on two legs).

And a good pair of Chinese tennis shoes don’t hurt either.

I believe the Pronghorn is a clear exception - it has a top speed approaching 100 kph and can do 65 for extended periods.

That’s more than three times the speed that an elite human athlete can maintain for hours. So a Pronghorn could stay out of reach of any hunter by running 15 to 20 minutes each hour, and relaxing the rest of the time.

This has been discussed here before, but I was fascinated by it. Is this something that was figured out recently? I wonder why it wasn’t taught in school when I was a kid, which wasn’t all that long ago. I learned the biggest animal was the blue whale, the fastest land animal was the cheetah, and so on, but they never told us that humans were the best distance runners. I grew up thinking that humans were smart, but pretty pathetic or at least uninteresting physically.

I think it also helps explain why we gave up our fur so we could better full-body sweat to cool off while generating huge amounts of heat.

I guess you could also argue that our brains are pretty special too, and they are technically physical.

There was a time, not to long ago, when we felt we had conquered, or nearly conquered, disease. We had eradicated Smallpox, we were close to eradicating polio, we had conquered malaria during the building of the Panama canal, etc. etc. Our immune systems, once exercised with every breath we took and every bite we ate, began to atrophy. Superbugs began to rear their heads, and now thousands fight daily with germs that we once thought would never trouble mankind again.

Similarly, mankind had conquered the base need to breastfeed with the introduction of scientifically proven infant formula. Generations later the science points the opposite direction.

The reality is that the human body, adaptable, powerful, and resilient, has done us well for tens of thousands of years, and we should look upon any significant lessening of the capabilities of that body as a warning or a weakness which could come back to bite us in the ass in the future.