Human Biology

Humans Beat Almost Every Animal At Running Long Distances

In nearly every athletic area, from jumping to sprinting to fighting, humans are lousy when compared to other animals. The only event where we might stand a chance in an interspecies Olympics: distance running. In a 2004 paper in Nature, Harvard anthropologist Daniel Lieberman and University of Utah biologist Dennis Bramble argue that humans evolved to run long distances. Our tendons, muscles, and ligaments help us store and release energy with every stride, and our large percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibers, the type geared for endurance, help us avoid fatigue. But our best feature is our ability to avoid overheating. Humans' ability to sweat combined with our relatively hairless hides help us dissipate heat faster than would-be rivals like horses, who pant to stay cool and can't pant while running. Two animals that could beat us in a marathon are the ostrich and the camel. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Humans were physically made for running. 01:18

  2. Fuel humans need to keep stamina is called ATP. 03:40

  3. Runners can "hit a wall" during a run, which is a term for extreme fatigue. 05:29

Written by Curiosity Staff March 2, 2015

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