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 …
my son will hate you for this !!!
"His footprints, preserved in the soft mud, show he was sprinting at 37 km/h "
That little statistic must have come directly from the Department for Guesswork"
Luckily our species has access to automatic weapons and bombs and all kinds of stuff we invented for killing. Any of them throwbacks want to try it on - come get some. Our feeble bodies will kick their arses from the relative comfort of our armed drone piloting sheds.
without the benefit of "blah blah" to spur him on
Just a bloody great dinosaur chasing after him!!
I think I would come close to breaking the world record with a pack of sharp teeth chasing after me...
... was an ancient any good at Crysis?
What about comparing to modern day women?
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.
They Also Popped Their Clogs at 45
I should have been dead of old age two years ago.
Mine's the one with "Old Fart" on the back...
I bet neanderthal woman couldn't eat a big mac meal in the time it would take a hungry texan or operate an ipod or drive a car whilst on the phone to your stockbroker.
Peter McAllister must be a real laff at parties ;)
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)
Sounds like an interesting read.
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.
Some of this is bullshit
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 ...
Arnie could be on a Harley with an Uzi 9mm.
Or driving a 38 ton tanker.
That evens up the odds somewhat.
They were faster, stronger, and had bigger brains. And look where that got them.
I am sure Arnie will get over it as he bathes in his money-jacuzzi and doesn't die aged 21.
Yes, I get it, I'm a slob.
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?
Stop that right now!
Surely I'm not the only one who wants to punch the inventors of obnoxious euphemisms like "manthropology", "manbag", "murse", "manscara", "mantyhose" etc.?
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.
Wrong word fail
If I said euphemisms above, I meant neologisms.
Yer Aboriginal runner
..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.
And your point is?
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.
I bet I could kick their asses at Call of Duty, though
rather be feeble
...and live almost double as long!!!
We live longer than most of our historical cousins - go figure!
"spiked shoes, a special track, a strict training regime, and money and glory to spur him on"
In fairness, "not being eaten" was probably pretty good motivation too.
A title is required
I for one welcome our new primitive...oh forget it.
Except the characters in the Old Testament of course!
With all that extra muscle mass and associated upper arm strength, did she have trouble getting a date? Maybe that's why the Neanderthals didn't fair as well as our lot.
Male Cow Excrement Alert!!!!!
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
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.
And what happened to these peoples?
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.
we'd boss them at quake
"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. :)
They also had a life expectancy 30-40 years less than today and suffered all sorts of muscular-skeletal disorders in "old age" - if they were lucky enough to make it that far.
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
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.
Pedal to power your PC!
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!
Oh yeah, and....
You die in childhood, die in childbirth if you're a woman, die of disease or injury anytime, die before you're 50 of old age, being worn out etc. etc. Today life really is a beach. Then it was the other thing.
Incentive to run faster
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.
There's diet, too
"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.
This is bad because...?
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.
Tough men weren't that far behind in our past.
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.
Back in my day...
...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
..you mention being humiliated by huge powerful women like it's a bad thing..
@ "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?
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