We are weaklings claims the Daily Mail 28 April 2014 in an article about declining human fitness, also reported in ScienceDaily 8 April 2014 and Outside magazine 26 April 2014. Because bones adapt to stresses and strains placed on them by laying down extra fibres and minerals and reorganising their internal structure, scientists can get an indication of how active a person was, even after they are long dead, by measuring the thickness and studying the internal architecture of the limb bones. Alison Macintosh of Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University has studied leg bones from various archaeological sites in Central Europe dated from 5300 BC to 850 AD, and compared them with modern human leg bones. She concluded that Neolithic farmers who lived 7,000 years ago were as fit as modern day long distance athletes, but as farming became more advanced, and work became more specialised, there was a general decline in fitness. Macintosh explained: “These developments are likely to have brought about changes in divisions of labour by sex and socioeconomic organisation as men and women began to specialise in certain tasks and activities – such as metalworking, pottery, crop production, tending and rearing livestock”.
This study follows on from other studies that also indicate early mankind living as hunter/gatherers or early farmers, were larger and fitter than modern man. According to Colin Shaw of Cambridge University’s Phenotypic Adaptability, Variation and Evolution Research Group, “Even our most highly trained athletes pale in comparison to these ancestors of ours”. He went on to say: “We’re certainly weaker than we used to be”.
Furthermore, the Daily Mail laments: “And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller”, referring to Cro Magnon man – a group of cavemen who had larger brains than today’s average, as well as a large, athletic physique. This general decline in human bodies and brains is blamed on “agriculture, with restricted diets and urbanisation compromising health and leading to the spread of disease”.
Editorial Comment: There is no denying that to be a successful hunter/gatherer you had to be fit, or you didn’t survive, irrespective of what time in human history you lived. Farming with only simple technology is also physically demanding, therefore it is no surprise that human bones found in sites classified as belonging to hunter/gatherers or “early” farmers showed signs of high fitness. Modern human athletes show that it is possible, with a great deal of effort, to attain the fitness of so called hunter/gatherer peoples. Sadly, neither the athletes nor us slouches can do anything about some of the other losses, e.g. the very provable decline in brain size.
The missing link in this new thesis is their complete ignorance of the fact that man did not start as semi-fit ape-men who hunted and gathered as they evolved new and higher levels of fitness and brain power. Rather, man began as the superbly fit created Adam, whose first task was gardening and then farming, and whose descendants later became hunter gatherers and now the fitness of their descendants today has largely degenerated to how much exercise one can get while lifting Big Macs.
There is no doubt modern urbanisation is compromising health and fitness, accompanied globally (regardless of lifestyle), by an irreversible increase in mutations and an increasing number of human diseases. Modern humans like to think they are the pinnacle of an upwardly evolving species, but the reality is we are ‘provably’ declining in many ways.
This new research is further confirmation of the depressing fact that we are fallen creatures in need of saving in body, mind and spirit. It is one reason why Jesus, who is the Creator, come to earth as Saviour, did not end his gospel with just a vague offer of ‘spiritual’ salvation, but accompanied it by the promise of a new earth, a renewed mind, spirit and a new physical body that would suffer neither sickness nor death. This is only available from Christ on His terms though. Ask for details. (Ref. bones, adaptation, degeneration, lifestyle)
Evidence News vol.14, No. 7
7 May 2014
Creation Research Australia