Latest Issue of Science News


News

Using one's head

Nepalese porters are the most efficient human load carriers yet recorded. They beat the former champions, African women balancing burdens on their heads, says Norman Heglund of the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He and his colleagues observed porters, ages 11 to 68, on a footpath at 2,800 meters elevation.

For men, loads averaged 93 percent of body weight but went up to 183 percent. Women's loads averaged 66 percent. The researchers fitted breathing monitors to some porters and documented that they could carry 60 percent of their body weight using half the energy that young Europeans use to carry backpacks. The porters walk slowly and rest often but go many hours with big loads, the team notes in the June 17 Science.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.