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Friday, August 16, 2013

High speed accurate throwing developed ~2 mya
Elastic energy storage in the shoulder and the evolution of high-speed
throwing in Homo

Nature 498, 483–486 (27 June 2013)


Some primates, including chimpanzees, throw objects occasionally, but
only humans regularly throw projectiles with high speed and accuracy.
Darwin noted that the unique throwing abilities of humans, which were
made possible when bipedalism emancipated the arms, enabled foragers
to hunt effectively using projectiles. 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 of when,
how and why hominins evolved the ability to generate high-speed throws.
Here we use experimental studies of humans throwing projectiles to show
that our 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 2
million years ago in the species Homo erectus. Taking into
consideration archaeological evidence suggesting that hunting activity
intensified around this time, we conclude that selection for throwing as
a means to hunt probably had an important role in the evolution of the
genus Homo.

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