Matt Z wrote:
Compared to apes, modern humans are pretty good distance runners. However, compared to most ungulates we just plain suck. ... I have a really hard time accepting the idea of early humans running down big game, partly because there are so many easier ways to hunt. There's also evidence of early modern humans using other hunting methods.
You and I being of larger stature and cringe at running 100 yards much less 20 miles. However, there is a lot of evidence that persistance hunting was practiced by just about all the ancient humans. There are so many easier ways to hunt, but when did those ways become known or developed? What did we do before that?
Now I agree with you that many ungulates have some pretty good endurance. The wildebeast comes to mind, but not all do. If you think about the world record in the marathon is just a few minutes past 2 hours. Let's be conservative and say that a good athlete can run one at 10 mph which would put them over 2.5 hours to complete. How many animals can run 10 mph for 2.5 hours straight?
I think to catagorically dismiss the possibility that our endurance was key to our development is not wise. Couple this with we are relatively weak and compare how muscle fibres contribute to that and I think you can draw some intersting possible conclusions.