Skip to main content
construction release_alert
Scholars@Duke will be undergoing maintenance April 11-15. Some features may be unavailable during this time.
cancel
Journal cover image

Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution.

Publication ,  Journal Article
Pontzer, H
Published in: Current biology : CB
June 2017

The evolutionary pressures shaping humans' unique bipedal locomotion have been a focus of research since Darwin, but the origins of humans' economical walking gait and endurance running capabilities remain unclear. Here, I review the anatomical and physiological determinants of locomotor economy (e.g., limb length and posture) and endurance (e.g., muscle volume and fiber type) and investigate their development in the hominin fossil record. The earliest hominins were bipedal but retained ape-like features in the hind limb that would have limited their walking economy compared to living humans. Moreover, the evolution of bipedalism and the loss of the forelimbs in weight support and propulsion would have reduced locomotor endurance in the earliest hominins and likely restricted ranging. Australopithecus evinced longer hind limbs, extended limb posture, and a stiff midfoot, suggesting improved, human-like economy, but were likely still limited in their endurance compared to modern humans. The appearance of skeletal traits related to endurance (e.g., larger limb joints, spring-like plantar arch) in Homo was somewhat mosaic, with the full endurance suite apparent only ∼1 million years ago. The development of endurance capabilities in Homo appears to parallel the evolutionary increase in brain size, cognitive sophistication, and metabolic rate.

Duke Scholars

Altmetric Attention Stats
Dimensions Citation Stats

Published In

Current biology : CB

DOI

EISSN

1879-0445

ISSN

0960-9822

Publication Date

June 2017

Volume

27

Issue

12

Start / End Page

R613 / R621

Related Subject Headings

  • Posture
  • Physical Endurance
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Locomotion
  • Humans
  • Hominidae
  • Hindlimb
  • Forelimb
  • Developmental Biology
  • Biological Evolution
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Pontzer, H. (2017). Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution. Current Biology : CB, 27(12), R613–R621. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.031
Pontzer, Herman. “Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution.Current Biology : CB 27, no. 12 (June 2017): R613–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.031.
Pontzer H. Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution. Current biology : CB. 2017 Jun;27(12):R613–21.
Pontzer, Herman. “Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution.Current Biology : CB, vol. 27, no. 12, June 2017, pp. R613–21. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.031.
Pontzer H. Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution. Current biology : CB. 2017 Jun;27(12):R613–R621.
Journal cover image

Published In

Current biology : CB

DOI

EISSN

1879-0445

ISSN

0960-9822

Publication Date

June 2017

Volume

27

Issue

12

Start / End Page

R613 / R621

Related Subject Headings

  • Posture
  • Physical Endurance
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal
  • Locomotion
  • Humans
  • Hominidae
  • Hindlimb
  • Forelimb
  • Developmental Biology
  • Biological Evolution