How Humans Became Athletes Through Evolution Essays

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How Humans Became Athletes Through Evolution
Dan Erne
Anthropology 101
Research Paper
Professor Tyree

Throughout the past 4 million years per say, humans have been constantly evolving. Not at a rapid pace; slowly but surely. As Charles Darwin stated “Survival of the fittest” holds true to this day, and it really just means that the most adapted creature will make it longer than a creature that isn’t adapted or able to live under the specific conditions of the world or geographical area. Hominids over these millions of years became more and more athletic with the beneficial changes. With the changes to the body of hominids over the past 4 million years, each change relatively brought a positive impact on the species existence. With just minor changes to the body of these hominids, such as the pelvis for example to a bowl shape, this distinctive change to the body added balance, the ability to stand upright. This change was the key point for hominids to be able to be bi-pedal. In this paper I will discuss 1) How early hominids bodies changed 2) How these changes helped us become more athletic 3) The abilities of athletes today. The Pelvis: This is in my opinion arguably the most beneficial change to early hominids, with the pelvic change allowing them to be able to stand upright. As humans, we stand erect with our backs vertical and our legs straight, but our primate relatives stand with sloping backs and bent legs. When humans stand together, it is a knock kneed position, which means that the knees are sloped inward and closer than the hips. This position is made possible by the peculiar shape of the lower end of the femur that is involved in the knee joint (Dean 81). Another change to the pelvis bone was that the sacrum and back hip bones were rotated backwards, creating different orientation in relation to the legs and backbone in relation to the legs and backbone compared to that in apes. In male hominids, these changes to the pelvis improved the efficiency of the bipedal locomotion. But bipedal females had the complication of having to give birth to a fetus with a large head (Dean 88).

The Brain: As much as the brain isn’t related to the structure of the body (in some ways), it still plays a huge part in the evolution of humans into athletes. Having a larger brain increases all abilities from locomotive, language, learning etc. These are all areas that are used in athletics, and are necessary to be able to be an athlete. The australopithecine hominids fall within the ape brain size range (400-500cc), and the species after that stayed about the same until Homo Habilis came along about 2.4 million years ago. The increase in brain size was about 200cc, and it was due to diet (Dean 116-117). While having a bigger brain is obviously a good thing, they still had to know how to use it in order to ensure survival. Being able to outsmart both other hominids and predators and also use teamwork with relatives/ clans was necessary. This directly relates to athletics, as every event is both a competition and teamwork event. If you are able to outsmart or outperform your competitor either by yourself or with teammates then you will be very successful no matter what sport you participate in. Foot Shape/Leg Muscles: When hominids started walking upright, also known as bipedalism, it wasn’t just a quick switch and done. With the change to the pelvic bone being more upright it stressed more on the gluteus maximus muscle (butt). With the switch of the pelvic girdle it moved the upper attachment of the hamstrings so that it is behind the hip joint, even when standing. With the remodeling of the pelvic bone and muscles, the hamstring was less able to swing the leg back, but with that said the gluteus maximus muscle was more able to take over that job (Milner 111).

Bipedalism: To start things off, bipedalism is a monumental change to start to separate into the hominids, as if we didn’t start walking on two…