The Sprints Cost Them Dearly In the End

Apr 21, 2011

File this one under human experimentation I'm just fine with.

Researchers took to the flatlands of New Mexico to test a controversial theory of evolution: Humans evolved into endurance athletes who, on two legs, can run down the fastest animals on earth. To test the hypothesis, the researchers contracted an Ocean's Eleven-like crew of marathoners and some scattered pronghorn antelope.

The pronghorn tops out at 60 miles per hour, and developed those wheels to outrun the long-gone North American cheetah. And it can sprint - for thirty straight minutes.

The team of scientists wanted to mimic a hunt as closely as possible:

"Assuming they actually succeeded in chasing a buck to the point of exhaustion and still feel the resolve to kill it, a licensed hunter would dispatch the animal with a pistol shot. The use of a gun or bow is required, since New Mexico doesn't allow human-hurled projectiles, sticks, or bare hands to be used as hunting weapons."

Charles Bethea documents the chase in "Fair Chase" - in this month's Outside magazine. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit