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Evolution of human running

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by NewsBot, Aug 31, 2007.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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    The evolution of human running: effects of changes in lower-limb length on locomotor economy.Steudel-Numbers KL, Weaver TD, Wall-Scheffler CM.
    J Hum Evol. 2007 Aug;53(2):191-6.
  2. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  3. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    The BBC are reporting:
    Tendons play key role in running
  4. davidh

    davidh Podiatry Arena Veteran

    Quote (much cut) - "You look at the Lucy skeleton... and it doesn't look at all like a human. It really is very different, it's got much shorter legs and it's got longer arms and I think there is every chance that Lucy couldn't run," said Dr Sellers.

    Yes, its accepted world-wide (has been since it was discovered more or less) that Lucy couldn't run, and was much less human-like than either homo habilis or homo erectus.

    But, he said he suspected Homo erectus, who lived two million years-ago, could sprint. So the Achilles tendon must have evolved at some evolutionary stage

    Well, that's generally accepted too - so really no suprises there at all:p

    BTW why would he (the researcher, not homo erectus) need a nice "ankle" bone? Wouldn't tuberosities on othere parts of the lower limb (we have all those - yawn) show what muscles originated where:confused:?
  5. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Limb length and locomotor biomechanics in the genus Homo: an experimental study.
    Gruss LT.
    Am J Phys Anthropol. 2007 Sep;134(1):106-16.
  6. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    The energetic costs of load-carrying and the evolution of bipedalism.
    Watson JC, Payne RC, Chamberlain AT, Jones RK, Sellers WI.
    J Hum Evol. 2007 Nov 17; [Epub ahead of print]
  7. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    Walking, running and the evolution of short toes in humans.
    Rolian C, Lieberman DE, Hamill J, Scott JW, Werbel W.
    J Exp Biol. 2009 Mar 1;212(Pt 5):713-721.
  8. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

    What We Can Learn About Running from Barefoot Running: An Evolutionary Medical Perspective.
    Lieberman DE.
    Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2012 Jan 17.
  9. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    I for one do not accept that Lucy was bipel in the human sense. My early work on her talus - the only foot bone available, demonstrated it to be non-human, and more similar to African Apes. I have no opinion on the Achilles tendon of Lucy, but do hang on to her talus; so far in the fossil record, the talus has been incredibly predictive of the rest of the foot. To my best guess, Lucy had long toes, and was at least semi-arboreal. (I am just moving sideways to ensure that the lightening bolt from the Lucy camp does not hit me). Rob
  10. davidh

    davidh Podiatry Arena Veteran


    Hi Rob,
    Don't the phalanges from the right hand show a slight longitudinal curvature to them too, suggestive of an arboreal dwelling mammal?
    I only heard this 2nd-hand, but from a reputable source.
  11. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    Putting various other issues (of contention) aside here, as I don't want to diversify down other paths (just stick to this topic). The above abstract just seems to me to be nothing more than thinly disguised philosophical naturalism... apparently under the guise of... "An Evolutionary Medical Perspective". Let’s just keep to empirical science... after all, this forum (I presume the journal: Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews) as well as the underlying context of the research (the assessing of those infamous "impact peaks") should be within the realms of empirical science... not historical speculation (one's world view philosophy), which is the above person's consistent shaky premise when dabbling in this area of barefooting & running.

    Let's assess the abstract within the confines of this shaky premise...

    I would think no matter what side of the fence you are on, the above quote is just mere unsubstantiated speculation - period... & questionable, to say the least. Hence, it is not needed in this setting. There are many issues the above content brings up to justify this/my view due to its involvement within a science publication. For starters... "people" (what is the definition of a person - people?) "ran" (what is the definition of running - ran - to at least be bipedal) "for millions of years" (did this happen for millions of years within the evolutionary paradigm). Now, I know some here know my views regarding the Origins discussion but the above view is out of sync within the peer accepted paradigm of evolution... let alone science.
    "People"... (people plural of peo·ple (Noun) Noun:
    1.Human beings in general or considered collectively.
    2.The citizens of a country, esp. when considered in relation to those who govern them.)

    ... have not existed for "millions of years", hence they have not been running for millions of years.

    Now, the above can also be associated to Dr Kidd's comment below (i.e. reference to "Lucy" - aka Australopithecus afarensis & the issue of bipedalism) - of which I have discussed before - of which I agree with (i.e. nature of the Talus bone/foot morphology).

    I'm not even going to touch this 'researcher's' likely twisted views on natural selection - particularly in the above context i.e. information gained from within the vast genome or outside (well, being the primate nature of the premise it nullifies this... whoops, I'm not going to go any further).

    Well, did they? Evidence? The above is a hint to the underlying fault... Confirmation bias ... pre-assumed unsubstantiated world view philosophy tainting objectivity - not good science... not good research ethic.

    The above was all that was needed... or is scientifically plausible within the abstract.

    I agree.

    Now... "I am just moving sideways to ensure that the lightening bolt from the Lucy [evolution] camp does not hit me." (ref. Rob Kidd, Podiatry Arena: Evolution of human running: Post 9, 22nd January 2012, 03:47 PM).
  12. davidh

    davidh Podiatry Arena Veteran

    Humans didn't evolve to run barefoot.
    If we had then the vast majority of us would be, well, running barefoot, and doing little else.

    Homo Sap would appear to have evolved along the lines of "survival of the fittest".
    Part of that premise may have meant being able to move quickly when necessary (I'm pretty sure it did), and that no doubt happened at some stage in the evolutionary process without wearing footgear.
    If we accept evolution, and I think I'm right in suggesting you don't B-H (fine by me) then we have to accept that there are many facets to evolving, one of which is our increased cranial capacity, and another is our ability to create more effective surfaces upon which to ambulate.

    Homo Erectus was around approx 2 million years ago - we think he could run.
    It's kind of difficult discussing human lower limb evolution with a creationist (if you are), but I'm happy to do so if you wish.
  13. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    I agree David; humans didn’t evolve to run barefoot. I have seen the following reasoning used a fair bit during barefoot running discussions, however, I have always found this statement nonsensical, regardless of your persuasion on the issue of origins (development of life). Humans are intelligent (to varying degrees) & footgear would/has been developed & used for a means of protection primarily. It has only really been since the 1970’s where the role of running/sports related footgear has taken another role – that of addressing movement related problems to address the incidence of running related/overuse type injuries (we’ll leave the issue of fashion footgear out of the discussion). I personally believe that during this process over the years more problems have been created & the areas it was targeted to resolve has not been efficiently addressed. Yet I also believe that for some, these corrective elements may have been seen to help (depending on the state of one’s lower limb structure) but on the whole I feel the footgear characteristics/gimmicks which have crept into the running shoe market has not been the most effective way to address the issues (i.e. adverse biomechanics relating to genetic entropy -> adverse lower limb forces). Hence the field of Podiatry & the role of orthotic therapy plays in more effectively addressing these issues on an individual basis.

    I take it you also mean via natural selection. I believe in "survival of the fittest" & natural selection but in a different context to probably yourself & its driving force role in evolution i.e. natural processes driving speciation - where new species arise from existing species (we also need to keep in mind that "species" is a man made concept thus we are bounded to some degree to the confines of this concept).

    I accept the reality of natural selection via the sorting & expressing of existing information already present within the genome (the DNA level) which is then influenced by outside factors i.e. the environment. On the other hand natural selection is not evolution, as it doesn’t create new genetic information... the vast billions of conducive/beneficial pieces of information required for the diversity & complexity we see evident around us in both flora & fauna. Natural selection is not some creative goddess. Natural processes via the likes of random "mutation events" (which have adverse/harmful, neutral & beneficial outcomes – largely adverse though) does not propel the process forward to where new species arise from existing species – which is the driving force needed for evolution to be plausible. Instead, these events are seen to primarily contribute to the loss of information or the degrading of information (rarely beneficial i.e. bacteria resistance to antibiotics – yet there is still a net loss of information here) thus the driving process in heading in the wrong direction. Hence organisms do change; it is the type & direction of change which is the issue here (& subsequently the starting point of the organism in question i.e. humans/Homo sapiens have always been human/Homo sapien).

    You are correct in that I don’t accept evolution but I don’t quite get the above logic. Sure I can understand the need for increased "cranial capacity" under this/your premise but there is a whole lot more elements needed for the hypothesis to work – that is for a speculated arboreal (knuckle walker) ancestor to gain the required millions of pieces of conducive info (from who knows where) to develop bipedalism, erect posture & subsequent running ability we witness today. I have accumulated a fairly large list of the changes that are needed (i.e. inner ear structure for upright movement, spine structure, larger Glutes etc...) which is of prime importance.

    I also don’t see the relevance of... "ability to create more effective surfaces upon which to ambulate". The fact is that humans are very efficient running over many types of surfaces. Being a runner myself I do a lot of running over natural surfaces (i.e. trails, bushland etc...) which involves running over rocky terrain & steep inclines. Sure there are likely faster surfaces to run on (i.e. asphalt) but I don’t think this element needs to be in the equation of speculated human development – yet it does for the issue of foot attire/protection.

    Thanks but I rather spend my attention on how the lower limb functions & the practical implications it has on my patients than dabbling into the historical assumptions of the evolution of its evident design.

    Excuse the pun but the evidence is fragmented/disjointed – call me a skeptic but I just don’t have enough faith to take evolution seriously. Sure, I require faith in the Ultimate Cause (of which is uncaused - eternal entity) of events but generally everything following this best fits the evidence; unlike evolution which violates the principle of causation & a string of other factors as the premise evolves from nothing (started by nothing) to the accumulation of information to fulfil today’s diverse fauna & flora gene pool (this requires blind faith in my view). Personally, I feel that concepts invoking history & philosophy should primarily be studied in those areas - not to this degree in science. Sure there at times there may be a cross over but the issues of origins & evolution should not have its degree of current presence in science & in research discussing topics of the above nature i.e. running impact peaks. That said, I can understand its presence here... evolution’s consistent prominence by an evolutionary biologist (from Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University) studying barefoot running & impact peaks is present based on confirmation bias & to probably guarantee research funding.

    I really don’t want to get into another evolution debate either but felt the need to outline the issues with the... “What We Can Learn About Running from Barefoot Running” abstract. Maybe I should bite my tongue & leave the prevailing religious (naturalism) conjecture alone.
  14. Rob Kidd

    Rob Kidd Well-Known Member

    I am not sure, but intuitively, I would expect manual and pedal digits to be curved in the Australopithecus. Rob
  15. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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