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According to a recent analysis of research, women in prehistoric times were often active hunters, equal to men. Their physical characteristics also made them well-suited for this activity.
For many years, scholars in the fields of history and anthropology have believed that men in prehistoric times were primarily hunters, while women fulfilled the role of gatherers in their community groups.
In mainstream media, there are often depictions of men as hunters wielding spears, accompanied by women carrying babies on their backs and baskets in hand.
However, there is increasing evidence to suggest that many commonly held beliefs about the behaviors and characteristics of women and men in their early years are not based on factual information.
Recent research suggests that prehistoric women were not only hunters, but their physical and biological makeup may have given them a natural advantage in this activity. Two new studies have unveiled this information.
A study analyzing the physical abilities of ancient women through fossil evidence found that they were able to endure the challenging activity of hunting and were probably effective hunters for extended periods.
Scientists discovered that the female physique was more adept at endurance tasks, which would have been essential in early hunting when they needed to exhaust the animals before making the kill.
Researchers have found that the hormones oestrogen and adiponectin, which are typically more abundant in female bodies, play a crucial role in allowing women to control glucose and fat levels. This is important for enhancing athletic performance.
For instance, they mentioned that oestrogen, a hormone involved in fat breakdown, aids women in sustaining physical activity and can delay the onset of tiredness.
Scientists stated that women’s wider hip structures allowed for increased hip rotation and longer strides.
They stated that taking longer steps is more metabolically efficient and allows for faster progress.
According to Cara Ocobock, co-author of the study from the University of Notre Dame, viewing human physiology in this manner allows for the comparison of women to marathon runners and men to powerlifters.
After examining early human fossils, researchers discovered several injuries that resembled those sustained by contemporary rodeo clowns. These injuries were located on the head and chest, similar to those caused by being kicked by an animal.
The rate and patterns of these injuries and wear and tear were found to be the same for both prehistoric women and men.
Dr. Ocobock stated that, based on fossil records, both males and females experience similar injuries.
She explained that they were both taking part in a form of hunting where they would surprise and attack large animals.
In recent years, scientists have discovered the remains of ancient female hunters in Peru, dating back to approximately 9,000 years ago. These women were interred with their hunting tools.
Dr. Ocobock stated that people are typically not buried with something unless it held great significance or was frequently used during their lifetime.
Studies have shown that ancient women most likely did not give up hunting while pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for their children.
Researchers stated that there is no evidence in the distant past to suggest the existence of a rigid sexual division of labor.
According to Dr Ocobock, there was insufficient population living in communities to have specific roles. As a result, everyone had to possess a wide range of skills in order to thrive.
Two recent studies were released in the publication American Anthropologist.