Thursday, June 27, 2013

Humans Evolved to Throw Things

From Nature:

Sporting feats such as baseball's 100-mile-per-hour fastball are made possible by a suite of anatomical features that appeared in our hominin ancestors about 2 million years ago, a video study of college athletes suggests.
And this ability to throw projectiles may have been crucial for human hunting, which in turn may have had a vital role in our evolution.
“Throwing projectiles probably enabled our ancestors to effectively and safely kill big game,” says Neil Roach, a biological anthropologist at George Washington University in Washington DC, who led the work. Eating more calorie-rich meat and fat would have helped early hominins' brains and bodies to grow, enabling our ancestors to expand into new regions of the world, he suggests. The study is published today in Nature.
Although some primates occasionally throw objects, and with a fair degree of accuracy, only humans can routinely hurl projectiles with both speed and accuracy, says Roach.
Adult male chimpanzees can throw objects at speeds of around 30 kilometres per hour, but even a 12-year-old human can pitch a baseball three times faster than that, he notes. In fact, the quickest motion that the human body produces — rotation of the humerus, the long bone in the upper arm, at a rate that is briefly equivalent to 25 full rotations in a single second — occurs while a person is throwing a projectile.
Roach and his colleagues found that human power and precision in throwing are down to adaptations mostly related to the shoulder.
Read the whole thing. More here.

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