A new research found that the height and weight of humans evolved separately from one another.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – A long-range study of the evolution of hominid body types has yielded some interesting discoveries about how height and weight development of our ancient ancestors.
The Weight and Height Growth Process Parted Ways
Published in the Royal Society Open Science journal, the research covered four million years’ worth of the fossils of hominids, of which humans are the last remaining species. The study range involved 311 specimens, the oldest being 4.4 million years old and the newer ones being anatomically modern humans from the end of the most recent Ice Age.
One interesting find is that our current height and weight developed at different moments in our history. After evolving “in concert” for a long period, about one and a half million years ago, humans suddenly grew about 10 cm without adding any significant bulk.
Dr. Manuel Will, the lead author of the study and a member of the Cambridge Department of Archaeology and a Gonville and Caius College Research Fellow, offered details on the matter. According to him, the resulting tall, lean physique was probably an evolutionary advantage. This might have appeared as our ancestors started moving out of forests and began living in the African savannas.
Humans became experts at endurance hunting, stalking prey animals for hours. Their higher surface-to-volume ratio would have helped with that. In contrast, when humanity began moving into higher latitudes with their cooler climates, they would have had to become bulkier to compensate.
However, Dr. Will also notes that these are just theories. He also points out that their ability to draw information from the remains can be quite limited. Aside from gaps in the fossil records, at times they had to estimate a specimen’s entire body type from something as small as one toe bone.
Another interesting find is that the hominid change in both height and weight was not uniform. Instead, it probably happened in “growth spurts” (or shrinking spurts, sometimes) that might have been separated even by as much as millennia.
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