The evolutionary connection

A friend of mine brought me an article from the Calgary newspaper about a Dr. Lieberman who is studying the role of running in human evolution. We are born to run, he says, and our backsides prove it. Rather puny animals to begin with, for us, survival of the fittest didn’t look so good, but enter the bulbous glutes, and suddenly we were running upright for long distances. According to him, in Africa we ran miles to where vultures circled over a lion’s kill, and we needed to be quick about it so we could arrive before the hyenas.

Apparently, there isn’t a single animal that can outrun us over long distances other than the horse, and that’s only because we’ve bred them to.

The cheetah, orangutan and plenty of others can beat us in short races, but just try to convince an orangutan to run a marathon and you’re liable to end up with bananas in your ears – and that’s only if he’s in a good mood. A mad orangutan can rip us limb from limb as well as outrun us in the 50 yard dash (survival of the fittest looks pretty good for him). After living in the jungle of Costa Rica I know that even tiny capuchin monkeys are vindictive, so I’m not about to try to convince another primate to do anything it doesn’t feel like. Having my light bulbs broken by a small primate is one thing, having my lights knocked out by a much larger one is something else all together.

Knowing, as you readers do, my inferiority complex after being outrun by road kill crabs, you’ll understand why I wanted to try out Dr. Lieberman’s theory. With no willing primates I borrowed my brother’s dogs, and in the name of science we set out.

Sure enough, for the first mile they pulled me along on my leash, but by mile three our roles were reversed. Unfortunately, in my blind pride as the superior runner I hadn’t turned back towards the house yet, and mile five and six were spent carrying the smaller dog and coaxing the larger one to keep walking.

It is an understatement to say that my brother would be upset if he knew his beloved pets were being used for scientific testing, but fortunately, not only am I the superior long distance runner, I’m also the superior communicator. The official story is that we only ran two miles, and they wore themselves out playing in the yard. No matter their big sad doggy eyes, and the fact that they run and hide now when I come to the door, my brother will never know any different than what I tell him. It’s great isn’t it?

And just think, it all started with the development of the human rump.