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(no subject)
2012
unknownj
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/05/12/the_odd_body_body_improvements/

Oh dear lord, this is what happens when people from the "School of Public Health" write papers, rather than evolutionary biologists..

"Shorter stature would provide a lower center of gravity which would perhaps help to prevent falls that often plague the elderly."

Over the last few thousand years, humans have been selected towards being taller, and average height has increased over that time. There is obviously a benefit to being taller, which is why that's how we've evolved. Being short is only good after reproductive age - up until that point, it's a disadvantage, which makes it unviable as a selection criteria.

"More ribs could help prevent hernias and other problems of holding organs in place more effectively."

The number of ribs varies between different animals, and is likely to be specifically geared towards an optimum based on the environment the animal lives in, and their body function. Changing the number of ribs probably won't help.

"Thicker bones would protect against breakage during falls."

.. and would cost more in terms of resources to create and maintain.

"Knees able to bend backwards would make the bones less likely to grind and deteriorate. "

.. and would require a complete redesign of the bone and muscle structures in the knees, for practically no advantage.

It goes on like that.. The whole point about evolution is that it's gotten us to this point for a reason. The number of ribs in the torso is not some random number, but rather it's the (current) optimum number in order to ensure maximum reproductive viability. If there was a better way, we'd have got to it by now. The whole thing is just pretend Science.. ho hum..

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(Deleted comment)
No idea what the actual benefits are, other than overall bigness in some way relating to strength.. All I know is that if being shorter was better, then the short people would be taking over and the species as a whole would be shrinking..

Didn't you ever see that film about the dwarf in a suitcase? Ask David, he'll tell you all about it.

To be honest, we're at the stage now where we're unlikely to go hungry or get killed because of a physical defect (unless, of course, you have to live with severe social or economic racial divides). I can't see any disadvantages of being short that would stop you getting laid.

So, why are we still growing?

There are only two reasons I can think of. First, perhaps on some deep psychological level girls have traditionally prefered tall guys to short guys. Maybe this is because they're good to burrow into. Maybe it's because a certain amount of physical power in a partner makes people feel safe. Maybe tall guys are usually better in bed, I wouldn't know.

Secondly, and probably most accurately, perhaps the slight growth in humans of recent decades is nothing to do with evolution in the literal sense of "the fittest survive". Perhaps it is more to do with better living conditions and diets higher in calcium and the proteins necessary to make us tall. A good diet hasn't been very common in history, it's only relatively recently that people have had this luxury. Perhaps it's even because we get too much protein and our bodies are trying to get rid of it in the best way possible.

I know that primitive man was about 5ft tall, but his diet was probably much more herbivore than omnivore. Most monkeys are herbivores, and I can't imagine that human hunters caught enough animals every day to feed everyone in the tribe solely on meat- especially during the winter. However, this was the hunting age, and this was when mankind was at his optimum for fending for himself in the wild. At 5ft. So 5ft is clearly a perfectly sensible height for a warrior, worry ye not.

Now, humans eat meat whenever possible (usually once or twice a day), and we don't do half as much exercise. No wonder our bodies are starting to use all this excess protein by making us taller!

A fair point.. though I still maintain that if there were an evolutionary imperative to become shorter, we would.

To be honest, I think the entire article is bogus. Logically, evolution is geared to maximise reproductive viability - something designed solely to benefit "old people" is by definition crap...

Yes, the extra foot doesn't seem to be making much difference.
Apologies but I didn't even look at TFA, just noted from your summary that it wasn't worth reading.

This is why I ignore the "Official Science" in favour of ACTUAL science. Because that was just retarded. x_x

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