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Running past Neandertals

Ancient humans, but not their evolutionary cousins, had heels for running

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2:09pm, February 3, 2011

Stone Age people, unlike their Neandertal contemporaries, had heel bones spring-loaded for long runs, a new study suggests.

Neandertals weren’t left in the dust, though. The backs of their feet gave them a leg up on power walking, say anthropologist David Raichlen of the University of Arizona in Tucson and his colleagues.

In ancient Homo sapiens, as in people today, a short lower heel stretched the Achilles tendon taut, Raichlen’s team concludes. That arrangement increased the tendon’s spring-l

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