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Endurance running and the evolution of Homo



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review article Endurance running and the evolution of Homo Dennis M Bramble1 Daniel E Lieberman2 1 2 Department of Biology University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah 84112 USA Peabody Museum Harvard University Cambridge Massachusetts 02138 USA Striding bipedalism is a key derived behaviour of hominids that possibly originated soon after the divergence of the chimpanzee and human lineages Although bipedal gaits include walking and running running is generally considered to have played no major role in human evolution because humans like apes are poor sprinters compared to most quadrupeds Here we assess how well humans perform at sustained long distance running and review the physiological and anatomical bases of endurance running capabilities in humans and other mammals Judged by several criteria humans perform remarkably well at endurance running thanks to a diverse array of features many of which leave traces in the skeleton The fossil evidence of these features suggests that endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo originating about 2 million years ago and may have been instrumental in the evolution of the human body form M ost research on the evolution of human locomotion has focused on walking There are a few indications that the earliest known hominids were bipeds1 2 and there is abundant fossil evidence that australopithecines habitually walked by at least 4 4 million years Myr ago3 4 Many researchers interpret the evolution of an essentially modern human like body shape first apparent in early Homo erectus as evidence for improved walking performance in more open habitats that came at the expense of retained adaptations in the australopithecine postcranium for arboreal locomotion for example refs 5 8 Although the biomechanics of running the other human gait is well studied only a few researchers see refs 9 10 for example have considered whether running was a mode of locomotion that influenced human evolution This lack of attention is largely



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