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Tallest men trace back to mammoth hunters

April 13, 2017 | Comment icon 19 comments

Mammoth hunters were much taller than other humans. Image Credit: Charles Robert Knight
A new study has linked a prehistoric population of mammoth hunters with some of today's tallest people.
Men from countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands and Croatia are, on average, much taller than most other people - a trait that researchers have now traced back to the Upper Paleolithic Gravettian culture which existed between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago.

The remains of Gravettian men have suggested that these prehistoric hunters grew to around 6ft which, while not particularly tall by today's standards, was incredible for this time period.
It is thought that a combination of lifestyle factors and nutrition gave rise to their impressive stature.

"The Gravettian is the most important prehistoric culture of the Upper Paleolithic Europe and is sometimes called 'the culture of mammoth hunters,'" said study lead author Pavel Grasgruber.

"I suspect that this big game specialization associated with a surplus of high-quality proteins and low population density created environmental conditions leading to the selection of exceptionally tall males."

Source: | Comments (19)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Troublehalf 5 years ago
I thought Netherlands used to be one of the shortest people in Europe; but this suddenly changed in the last 100 years. If that's the case, was something unlocked?
Comment icon #11 Posted by Calibeliever 5 years ago
This doesn't invalidate the current early human migration theories. The time frames are off by as much as†100,000 years for modern humans (several hundred thousand if you include Neanderthals). Modern human migration was well established long†before the last ice age began.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 5 years ago
Not really sure what that is supposed to mean ?†
Comment icon #13 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 5 years ago
Much of the Netherlands is below sea level, so maybe they became tall in order to keep their heads above the water ?†
Comment icon #14 Posted by Gingitsune 5 years ago
I guess you mean "take that out of Africa theory"...?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Frank Merton 5 years ago
I suppose that explains why today's young Vietnamese are so much taller than my generation. I think human height may have some ancient genetic aspect, and it would make sense that descendent's of hunter-gatherer cultures would have some advantage in the males being taller, but I think calcium and similar dietary aspects of childhood is much more significant. There are some damn tall Africans in West Africa too.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Gingitsune 5 years ago
Although Sudan is hardly Zimbabwe, there were important gene flow between Middle East and East Africa, in Neolithic. The mammoth hunters' height genes could have reached Africa, along with Y-DNA haplogroup R1b-V88. An independent mutation related to height in Sudan is also a possibility. Any of these scenario could turn correct, and even both could be correct together. For example, there are at lease two lactase persistence alleles†in Africa, the R1b-V88 one, which is the same as in Eurasia, and a local version (or even a few local versions) native from sub-Saharian†Africa.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Codenwarra 5 years ago
Not in my limited experience. †Frank, born Eindhoven 1941 obviously lived through the†NAZI occupation and the Dutch famine as an infant. †He was a bit shorter than average. †His younger brother †Simon, born well after 1945 was well over 6 feet tall. † With a few exceptions all the men of Netherlands ancestry I have known were unusually tall. † The Scots travel writer James H. Curle noted in his 1920 book "This World of Ours" that both men and women in Montenegro seemed unusually tall. †† see pages 190 -191
Comment icon #18 Posted by Phaeton80 5 years ago
† We eat a lot of cheese, potatoes and veggies. No seriously; combination of environment (wealth, healthcare), diet, and natural selection I suppose. Im 1.85 myself, so Im right in the Dutch median according to this article.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Phaeton80 5 years ago
Then again, maybe we just live in high concentrations of CO2, given our early and massive industrialization. CO2 isnt as bad as reported, dont believe the hype. Plants... and the Dutch.. thrive on it.

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