Who knew?  Our big brains evolved not because we were great thinkers, but great runners.  The article in the NYTimes adds an interesting twist to the question of how we evolved from our primate ancestors.  My interest in anthropology is no more unusual than that of metaphysics in general—what is the nature of reality, or who we are and how we got here.  Our australopicine ancestors rose up on two legs before their brains grew beyond chimp size.  That position enabled them to look at their surroundings, utilize both hands for carrying and tool making, and to move relatively long distances in open savannahs in order to “run down”  and consume swifter prey.  This ability to do long distance jogging provided them with the protein infusion (sorry to our vegan friends) that promoted brain developement. This process of natural selection would further promote bipedalism, long- distance movement and associated brain developement.  This theory fits in well with recent studies demonstrating neurogenesis in adults by virtue of aerobic exercise.  Of course the caveat remains and is consistent with this hypothesis–extreme exercise is deleterious to our health.  So once again the “secret” to life is moderation.  Exercise was and is important to our collective and individual health.  Extreme exercise is not.  Our ancestors were successful joggers, not marathon winners.

Leave a Reply