Chasing a prey — and being chased as prey — made pre-historic man a tougher bloke than today’s wimps.india Updated: Oct 15, 2009 22:01 IST
It had to be an Australian, pointing out how today’s men are essentially wimps. Instead of going about things the normal way — arm wrestling, binge drinking, speed racing and other testosterone-demanding activities — Aussie anthropologist Peter McAllister has come to that conclusion, courtesy empirical evidence, that evolution is recessionary, at least for human males. In his book Manthropology, Mr McAllister does more than Desmond Morris-dancing. His research shows that prehistoric men could go higher and faster and were stronger than their modern counterparts. So if it came to hand-to-hand combat or a race to the finish line, be assured the modern man would have bit the dust.
And how, pray, has the more intelligent than the tough Cro Magnon man McAllister managed to build his thesis? Well, the speed of Australian aboriginals 20,000 years ago has been gathered by fossilised footprints of six prehistoric men chasing their prehistoric prey. The analysis shows that on the soft, muddy edge of a lake, these runners reached a top speed of 37 kilometres an hour. Compare that with the top speed of 42 kilometres an hour on rubberised tracks with spiked shoes by the world’s faster runner Usain Bolt. The same principle of physical decline holds for strength.
So what’s the reason for us turning into wusses? Mr McAllister, sounding a bit like our ‘When we were young...’ grandfathers, blames the decline on modern man’s inactivity and the Industrial Revolution that really signalled a technologically-sprung laziness. Which makes us think is whether it would be more worthwhile to bolster our sagging physical prowess by chasing a prey or two rather than plan to settle down with the sedentary object entitled Manthropology.