Les chercheurs sont longtemps passés à côté de l’idée que les humains pouvaient être de bons coureurs d’endurance. Jusqu’au début des années 1980, il était couramment admis que la bipédie avait donné aux humains primitif de grands avantages via la marche, mais que nous étions de piètres coureurs, notamment parce que l’on s’arrêtait au constat de nos faibles qualités de sprinteurs.
Mais dans les années 1980, un chercheur, lui-même marathonien, David Carrier, a émis l’hypothèse que nos ancêtres aient pu être d’excellents coureurs d’endurance, et que cette qualité aurait pu les aider en permettant la pratique d’un type de chasse particulier, appelé chasse à l’épuisement. Passée pratiquement inaperçue, l’idée a été reprise une vingtaine d’années plus tard, et est depuis considérée comme une hypothèse plutôt robuste, même si elle ne fait pas l’unanimité. Elle est par ailleurs renforcée par des études morphologiques et génétiques.
Par ailleurs, l’idée que les premiers coureurs aient couru nus-pieds laisse entendre que la technique de course naturelle des humains est différente de la technique utilisée par les coureurs chaussés (attaque sur le milieu du pied pour la technique naturelle, sur le talon pour les coureurs chaussés), et pourrait expliquer que ces derniers se blessent souvent. La question reste très débattue, et l’intérêt d’apprendre à courir pieds nus pour retrouver une foulée naturelle est âprement discuté.
1. Adaptations à la course d’endurance
2. Implications modernes
Adaptations à la course d’endurance
Combien de temps un Homo erectus était-il capable de courir sans boire ? Environ 5h, selon cette étude :
Dehydration and persistence hunting in Homo erectus
Martin Hora et al.
Journal of human evolution, 2020
Our results showed that H. erectus would reach the dehydration limit in 5.5–5.7 h of persistence hunting at the reported Kalahari conditions, which we argue represent a conservative model also for Early Pleistocene East Africa. Maximum hunt duration without drinking was negatively related to the relative body surface area of the hunter. Moreover, H. erectus would be able to persistence hunt over 5 h without drinking despite possible deviations from modern-like heat dissipation capacity, aerobic capacity, and locomotor economy. We conclude that H. erectus could persistence hunt large prey without the need to carry water.
L’inactivation d’un gène il y a deux ou trois millions d’années a pu améliorer les capacités d’endurances de nos ancêtres.
Human-like Cmah inactivation in mice increases running endurance and decreases muscle fatigability: implications for human evolution
Jonathan Okerblom et al.
Proceedings of the royal society, 2018
Taken together, these data suggest that CMAH loss contributes to an improvedskeletal muscle capacity for oxygen use. If translatable to humans, CMAH losscould have provided a selective advantage for ancestral Homo during thetransition from forest dwelling to increased resource exploration and hunter/gatherer behaviour in the open savannah.
Economy and Endurance in Human Evolution
Current biology, 2017
The appearance of skeletal traits related to endurance (e.g., larger limb joints, spring-like plantar arch) in Homo was somewhat mosaic, with the full endurance suite apparent only ∼1 million years ago. The development of endurance capabilities in Homo appears to parallel the evolutionary increase in brain size, cognitive sophistication, and metabolic rate.
A complete suite of anatomical features related to endurance running is not seen until Homo ergaster at 1.8 million years ago. However, a mosaic of these features is present in earlier Australopiths. This, combined with the lack of evidence for long range projectile weapons in the Pleistocene, indicates thes features may have been positively selected for to increase walking efficiency and increased endurance running capabilities were just a fortunate by-product. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support the notion that anatomical changes observed in early Homo evolved to increase running capabilities.
Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation
Zaidi et al.
Plos Genetics, 2017
The evolutionary reasons for variation in nose shape across human populations have been subject to continuing debate. An import(ant ?) function of the nose and nasal cavity is to condition inspired air before it reaches the lower respiratory tract.
Henry T. Bunn & Alia N. Gurtov
Quaternary international, 2014
The prime-dominated profile at FLK Zinj is significantly different from profiles formed by the three scavenging methods, which likely indicates hunting by Early Pleistocene Homo.
Graeme Ruxton & David Wilkinson
Our model estimates that nonhominin scavengers will generally be able to reach the carcass within 30 min of detecting a plume of vultures above a nearby carcass. We argue that endurance running over periods greater than 30 min would not have provided a selective advantage to early hominins through increased scavenging opportunities. However, shorter distance running may have been selected, particularly if hominins could defend or usurp carcasses from other mammalian scavengers.
Bovid mortality profiles in paleoecological context falsify hypotheses of endurance running–hunting and passive scavenging by early Pleistocene hominins
Bunn & Pickering
Quaternary research, 2010
In all but one case, the bovid mortality data from FLK Zinj violate test predictions of the endurance running-hunting and passive scavenging hypotheses. When combined with other taphonomic data, these results falsify both hypotheses, and lead to the hypothesis that early Homo operated successfully as an ambush predator.
Optimal running speed and the evolution of hominin hunting strategies
Steudel-Numbers & Wall-Scheffler
Journal of human evolution, 2009
The belief in the lack of optimal running speeds in humans is based, however, on a number of early studies with experimental designs inadequate for the purpose of evaluating optimality. Here we measured the energetic cost of human running (n = 9) at six different speeds for five minutes at each speed, with careful replicates and controls. We then compared the fit of linear versus curvilinear models to the data within each subject. We found that individual humans do, in fact, have speeds at which running is significantly less costly than at other speeds (i.e., an optimal running speed). In addition, we demonstrate that the use of persistence hunting methods to gain access to prey at any running speed, even the optimum, would be extremely costly energetically, more so than a persistence hunt at optimal walking speed. We argue that neither extinct nor extant hominin populations are as flexible in the chosen speeds of persistence hunting pursuits as other researchers have suggested.
Pickerins & Bunn
Journal of human evolution, 2007
We agree with the opinion ofBramble and Lieberman(2004)that earlyHomorequired a high-quality diet, which in-cluded a substantial meat component, and that it was thus a ca-pable carcass forager. However, our understanding of thepaleoenvironment, paleoecology, and archaeology of earlyHomosites, reviewed here, makes us dubious about their fur-ther suggestion that ER might have been employed regularlyand successfully in service of that foraging pursuit. We are re-luctant to assign to earlyHomothe impressive tracking skillsof the Kalahari San, when the cognitive and meat-foragingabilities of Plio-PleistoceneHomoare active research issues.The behavioral pattern that selected for ER in the genusHomoremains unclear, but it seems likely that hunting andscavenging contributed minimally, if at all.
Daniel Lieberman et al.
Harvard Library, 2007
We will never know for sure why and how ER capabilities
evolved, but the modern ethnographic record is a limited, biased,
and sometimes misleading source of evidence to test hypotheses
about how ESA hominids hunted and scavenged.
The challenge for paleoanthropologists is to explain the past
436 D.E. Lieberman et al. / Journal of Human Evolution 53 (2007) 434e437
in terms of testable hypotheses derived from actualistic studies
and middle-range research without succumbing to the ‘‘tyranny
Journal of human evolution, 2008
As pointed out by Lieberman et al. (2007), Pickering and Bunn (2007) made several flawed assumptions. Persistence hunting may have been more common before the invention of the bow-and-arrow or the domestication of dogs and horses. Theapparent scarcity of ethnographic records of PH does not imply that PH was rareit could simply be that anthropologists who were able to observe PH were rare. Over the last 50 years, hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari have experienced drastic changes, and the recent observations of PH may simply represent the tail-end of a dying tradition. In the absence of a better hypothesis, PH and scavenging remain plausible explanations for the evolution of ER.
Daniel Lieberman, Denis Bramble
Harvard library, 2007
Humans have exceptional capabilities to run long distances in hot, aridconditions. These abilities, unique among primates and rare among mammals,derive from a suite of specialised features that permit running humans to store andrelease energy effectively in the lower limb, help keep the body’s center of massstable and overcome the thermoregulatory challenges of long distance running.Human endurance running perfonnance capabilities compare favourably withthose of other mammals and probably emerged sometime around 2 million yearsago in order to help meat-eating hominids compete with other carnivores.
Current anthropology, 2006
Endurance running may be a derived capability of the genus Homo and may have been instrumental in the evolution of the human body form. Two hypotheses have been presented to explain why early Homo would have needed to run long distances: scavenging and persistence hunting. Persistence hunting takes place during the hottest time of the day and involves chasing an animal until it is run to exhaustion. A critical factor is the fact that humans can keep their bodies cool by sweating while running. Another critical factor is the ability to track down an animal. Endurance running may have had adaptive value not only in scavenging but also in persistence hunting. Before the domestication of dogs, persistence hunting may have been one of the most efficient forms of hunting and may therefore have been crucial in the evolution of humans.
Le grand fessier, muscle essentiel dans notre évolution. Il semble avoir une utilité modeste pour la marche, mais beaucoup plus importante pour la course.
Daniel Lieberman et al.
Harvard library, 2006
The human gluteus maximus is a distinctive muscle in terms of size, anatomy and function compared to apes and other non-human primates. Here we employ
electromyographic and kinematic analyses of human subjects to test the hypothesis that the human gluteus maximus plays a more important role in running than
walking. The results indicate that the gluteus maximus is mostly quiescent with low levels of activity during level and uphill walking, but increases substantially in activity and alters its timing with respect to speed during running. The major functions of the gluteus maximus during running are to control flexion of the trunk on the stanceside and to decelerate the swing leg; contractions of the stance-side gluteus maximus may also help to control flexion of the hip and to extend the thigh. Evidence forwhen the gluteus maximus became enlarged in human evolution is equivocal, but the muscle’s minimal functional role during walking supports the hypothesis that enlargement of the gluteus maximus was likely important in the evolution of hominid running capabilities.
The loss of functional body hair in man: the influence of thermal environment, body form and bipedality
Journal of human evolution, 1985
An insulating layer of body hair is crucial to the thermoregulatory energetics of most mammals. Only some highly specialized aquatic forms and a few fossorial and terrestrial species which experience special heat stress problems have evolved a naked skin. Man’s body size and form suggest that his naked skin is associated with the prevention of hyperthermia in hot climates rather than an aquatic ancestry. The reduced direct solar radiation exposure of hominids in open equatorial environments, resulting from their unique bipedal posture, may explain the absence of this characteristic among other savannah mammals of comparable body mass.
The energetic paradox of human running and hominid evolution
David Carrier, 1984
This analysis of the morphology and physiology of human locomotion, although incomplete and largely speculative, sug- gests that man is a primate that has become specialized for (among other things) endurance running […] . Exercising anthropoid primates can dissipate heat more rapidly than certain cursorial mammals. This suggests that the earliest hominids may have been more effective at heat loss than many other contemporary mammals. Furthermore, early australo- pithecines were fully bipedal. As a result, they were probably not constrained to the typical 1:1 breathing pattern of running quadrupeds. Consequently, it is possible that one of the impor- tant factors which differentiated hominids from other an- thropoids, and ultimately led to the evolution of H. sapiens, was the occupation of a new predatory niche. This hypothet- ical niche was that of a diurnal predator which depended upon exceptional endurance in hot (midday) temperatures to disable swifter prey animals.
Dennis M. Bramble, David Carrier, 1983
Quadrupedal species normally synchronize the locomotor and respiratory cycles at a constant ratio of 1:1 (strides per breath) in both the trot and gallop. Human runners differ from quadrupeds in that while running they employ several phase-locked patterns (4:1, 3:1, 2:1, 1:1, 5:2, and 3:2), although a 2:1 coupling ratio appears to be favored.
Franciscus & Trinkaus
American journal of physical anthropology, 1988
Modern humans, among extant hominoids, possess a unique projecting, external nose whose basic structure is reflected in a series of skeletal features including nasal bone convexity, an internasal angle, lateral nasal aperture eversion, prominence and anterior positioning of the anterior nasal spine, an acute angle of the subnasal alveolar clivus, and an expansion of the breadth of the nasal bones relative to that of the piriform aperture. This anatomy appears with the emergence of Homo erectus ca. 1.6 million years ago. Although it undoubtedly evolved in the context of craniofacial and dental reduction during hominid evolution, it appears to have been primarily a response to the need for moisture conservation in an arid environment via turbulence enhancement and ambient cooling of expired air. Its appearance at this time in hominid evolution, in conjunction with the presence of a fatigue- resistant locomotor anatomy characteristic of archaic members of the genus Homo, indicates a shift to increasingly prolonged bouts of activity in open and arid environments.
Une étude qui trouve que l’attaque talon est plus économe que l’attaque médio-pied, du moins pour les vitesses relativement faibles.
Rearfoot striking runners are more economical than midfoot strikers
Ana Ogueta-Alday et al.
Medecine & science in sport & exercise, 2014
Medecine & science in sport & exercise, 2012
Et un peu de littérature, un livre que l’on ne saurait trop recommander (même s’il prend quelque libertés avec les questions scientifiques) :
Christopher McDougall, Born to run, éditions Gérin, 2012.