Elastic energy storage in the shoulder and the evolution of high-speed throwing in Homo
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CitationRoach, Neil T., Madhusudhan Venkadesan, Michael J. Rainbow, and Daniel E. Lieberman. 2013. “Elastic energy storage in the shoulder and the evolution of high-speed throwing in Homo.” Nature 498 (7455): 483-486. doi:10.1038/nature12267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12267.
AbstractAlthough some primates, including chimpanzees, throw objects occasionally1,2, only humans regularly throw projectiles with high speed and great accuracy. Darwin noted that humans’ unique throwing abilities, made possible when bipedalism emancipated the arms, enabled foragers to effectively hunt using projectiles3. However, there has been little consideration of the evolution of throwing in the years since Darwin made his observations, in part because of a lack of evidence on when, how, and why hominins evolved the ability to generate high-speed throws4-8. Here, we show using experimental studies of throwers that human throwing capabilities largely result from several derived anatomical features that enable elastic energy storage and release at the shoulder. These features first appear together approximately two million years ago in the species Homo erectus. Given archaeological evidence that suggests hunting activity intensified around this time9, we conclude that selection for throwing in order to hunt likely played an important role in the evolution of the human genus.
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