How did primitive humans, with a top speed of 28 mph, hunt large mammals like deer, bears, wolves, etc, that can reach speeds of near 35 – 40 mph?



How did primitive humans, with a top speed of 28 mph, hunt large mammals like deer, bears, wolves, etc, that can reach speeds of near 35 – 40 mph?

In: Biology

Most animals can outrun humans, but only for short distances. Humans run slower, much slower, but we can go forever. There is no marathon running in the animal Kingdom, but if there was humanity would be champ.

Ancient humans would track animals through the bush, the animal would run away, and the primitive humans would just lope after it. The animal would get scared run, and the humans would run after it again. We also had the brains to track it. Rinse and repeat after 6 hours and that fast gazelle is too tired to continue anymore. It’s now dinner.

Basically, it’s like zombie movies, but to animals we’re the relentless zombies.

Later on, as our brains developed, we did as humans do and use our brains to save on effort. Why chase an animal when you can set a trap? Later on still, clever humans discovered animal husbandry. Now we only use our long-distance skills to hunt 26.2 stickers for our Priuses.

Edit: when I say “we”, I refer to humanity. I am not *personally* optimized for running.

Endurance. Humans didn’t tire as easily as other animals. say a deer can only run so fast for a short amount of time, so eventually they would tire out and become exhausted, while the human was able to keep going and catch up.

Similar to how we do now, we would’ve figured out that if we climb a tree over a deer trail, and sit still, the deer will walk up and not notice us. Maybe leave a handful of grain on the trail, something to catch the deer’s attention

Three main factors.

1) as stated by others, we outlast them. We’re are the terminators of the animal kingdom. We will keep on coming, sand rubbing after them until they drop from overheating.

2) ambushes. We sit, and wait by watering holes and trails, and dens until they pop out. Then when.. Dinner. Most predators do this.

3). We can throw things. We can throw very well, and at high speeds. This is a trait no other animal has, and is very effective even if you’re just chucking a pointy stick. Once we got better with tools (bows, slings, etc) it’s game over

the video “[Are Humans OP?](” covers the topic others have mentioned in an entertaining way.

People have three big advantages: smarts, spears, and stamina.

Most importantly, people are smart. We can set traps and make tools, but just as importantly talk and plan hunting strategies and pass on lore about animals. And we can mentally model what our prey is thinking, allowing us to predict their moves. We can plot to circle around the deer or drive it off a cliff or spook it toward another hunter.

Also importantly, people have spears. We can throw very well, so we don’t necessarily have to catch an animal outright, we can hit it with something pointy. This is also useful for staying at a distance from dangerous prey.

And finally, we have stamina. People aren’t the very best endurance runners out there, but we are pretty good at it. Many species that can evade us over short distances can be caught up to over longer ones.

These are not entirely separate factors. Brains obviously help us make spears, but they also help us persist while hunting better…we can keep on a goal even when we no longer actually see the prey, and intelligence lets us track better. And it lets us do things like invent water skins or hollow ostrich eggs to keep hydrated during the heat of the chase. Similarly, there’s not necessarily a clear distinction between hunting with a spear and persistence hunting…it might take some pursuit to get close enough to hit your prey with a weapon, or prey might run after being wounded and need to be tracked down.

Pursuit Predation.

Humans are interesting. We cannot sprint for long durations but we can job or walk quickly nearly forever compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. So, we would just hunt things until they were completely exhausted and then easily kill them in that state. Think of humans as the terminators of the animal kingdoms. Most animals can only sprint for a little while and its incredibly exhausting. They stop to rest, there we are again. So they go sprinting off again. Their lungs aching body is screaming. They stop. So tired. Uh oh here we are again. Rinse and repeat and boom we just killed a cheetah or something.

1. Tools: Primitive humans could sharpen a stick to make a throwing spear, and build sharp points from things like flint, wounding or killing an animal from a distance. Also: Slings, throwing rocks, building traps, and fire. There is a place in Alberta, Canada called (charmingly) “head smashed in buffalo jump” which is where ancient native americans would chase herds of buffalo off a cliff, where they would fall to their deaths. Then the natives could just walk around to the base and collect meat, hides, and all the other resources at their leisure.
2. Endurance: No other animal on earth can run as far a human. World champion race horses have to rest for days to recover from a single race. Humans can routinely run marathons, 42km, with training. There are several cultures that still exist that use endurance chases to corral prey animals into traps or kill zones.
3. Stealth: It’s hard to imagine for a “civilized” person, but humans can be extremely stealthy in the wild with proper training. Getting close to an animal allows you to kill it before it has a chance to run.
4. Teamwork: Just as a pack of wolves or lions can bring down much larger prey, ancient humans could co-ordinate better than almost any other animal using perhaps our best tool: language. Surrounding an animal, tiring it out, and only when it’s weak going for a kill allowed ancient peoples to bring down huge animals, like mammoths.

I would like to add that hunting predators like bears and wolves is rare, because often they don’t run AWAY but fight back. Also generally the meat of predators isn’t great to eat anyways.

Look up [persistence hunting.]( (wiki link)

Basically, over a long enough distance, humans can outrun anything. The other animals can *sprint* faster, but then they need to rest. Humans are terrifying because they can just keep jogging+walking+tracking as needed until the prey collapses of exhaustion.

Stamina and tracking. There’s a video on YT narrated by Attenborough, part of a series called “life of mammals” shot in the Kalahari where a group of guys run down a Kudu over a couple of days on foot.

Shows much of what people are saying here in a single video.

Edit: it was 8 hours

Wait what? Usain Bolts top speed isn’t even 28 mph. Who what when how? Working as a team is the obvious answer but wut?

“Slow and steady wins the race”

Humans are slower, but we can follow the animals until they tire out and become much easier to capture.

This is why humans are so good at tracking.

Also, we have tools: spears, shoes, clothes, nets, coordination (team work).

The short answer is we just kept walking after them following the trail of their hoofprints/pawprints, and eventually the animal in question would exhaust itself trying to get away. That’s when the tribe of humans would strike as one and bring down the animal.

This is a tactic called pursuit predation.

From what I know from survival shows… Since humans can sweat and animals, generally, can’t. So you basically chase and trail an animal to the point its exhausted from the heat.


Then you swoop in and kill it.