Science & Nature Archive

Friday, July 14, 2006

Physical Comparison of Humans to Other Animals

Not too long ago, I made a blog entry, Request for Information - Physical Comparison of Humans to Animals I actually did receive some feedback in the form of e-mail, which inspired me to do more research. In the course of which, I found the paper, Differential scaling of locomotor performance in small and large terrestrial mammals, written by Jose (Pepe) Iriarte-Diaz, which was published in the JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, 205 (18): 2897-2908 SEP 2002. Anyway, as part of his research into animal locomotion, he had compiled a large set of data of mammal max running speeds along with their body mass and length. This was exactly the type of thing I was looking for in order to characterize how humans compare to other animals.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Request for Information- Physical Comparison of Humans to Animals

I'm throwing out a request for information for how humans fare physically in the animal kingdom. If anyone can supply me with links or recommend books on this topic, please do so in the comments. (I don't know how many people will even read this entry, but throwing it out there doesn't hurt.)

Here's where I'm coming from on this. I grew up as a kid who loved watching PBS, and then the Discovery Channel once we got cable. The types of animals that get all the attention are the fastest, the biggest, the strongest, etc.. And these animals are always compared to people, to try to put their skills into perspective. Growing up, I got the impression that humans were pathetic physically, and it was mainly our cleverness that allowed us to be so successful (along with our bipedalism and opposable thumbs). Now, my daughter watches The Most Extreme on Animal Planet, which seems to emphasize this even more.

Recently, there was an article in the 18 November 2004 issue of Nature, titled "Endurance running and the evolution of Homo." There is a very good summary and discussion of this article at the old Pharyngula site. Whether or not endurance running was a major driver of human evolution, I find it very interesting that humans are so good at long distance running, especially after all those years of documentaries telling me how pathetic of runners we are.

Hence, the request for information. Are there any places out there with comparisons similar to the above article, that show how humans fare in the animal kingdom, and not just compared to the biggest/fastest/strongest? If not, where would I go about finding this type of information, so that I could start making my own comparisons.


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