Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Not An Olive In Sight - Neanderthals Sported Arms Like Popeye
Editor's Note: This is a post by Bigfoot Evidence intern Melloney TheEriduserpent. She lives in southern Spain and her various interests are herpetology, mythology, and ufology. Basically, everything supernatural. She's also a healer of animals.
It seems that our ancestors had it very hard in the day, so much so that they had abnormally powerful right arms. It was believed that this was due to spear throwing but now anthropologists think differently. After conducting several physical experiments they now believe they have the real answer.
"Neanderthals have really interesting upper bodies," researcher Colin Shaw, a biological anthropologist at the University of Cambridge in England, told LiveScience. "If you and I are both right-handed, you'd expect 4 to 13 percent asymmetry between our arms. Neanderthals have up to 50 percent or more asymmetry. They were doing something with their dominant arms that were either more intense or repetitive or both than we do today. The only population of modern people that we see who are similar are tennis players, who hit tennis balls many, many years aggressively."
Scientists had suggested these arms may have grown strong through regular underhanded spear-thrusting. "We thought to test that idea," Shaw said.
Shaw, along with colleagues at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Oxford, took measured electrical activity in the muscles of 13 right-handed men as they performed three different spear-thrusting tasks — single thrusts followed by rapid withdrawals, repeated strikes, and strikes followed by pushing of the spear forward. They also analysed the men as they carried out four different scraping tasks on carpets — hacking, pushing and two kinds of pulling.
The experiments were done on men because most Neanderthal skeletons analysed by scientists have been male. Female skeletons do show the asymmetry, but the small number of specimens makes it tough to say for sure whether Neanderthal females had uneven arms, too.
The researchers found that spear-thrusting led to significantly higher muscle activity on the left side of the body than on the right, opposite to what is seen in Neanderthal fossils.
"Spear-thrusting did not appear to explain the mystery," Shaw said.
In comparison, scraping tasks led to much higher muscle activity on the right side than on the left, suggesting they may explain the details often seen in Neanderthal skeletons.
Posted by Shawn at 8/01/2012 01:03:00 AM