Prehistoric women believed to be hunters, not just gatherers, in new study of hormones and genetics

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Newly published studies suggest that maybe women didn’t actually spend all of their time in the kitchen back in the day — as people believed for so long.

Cara Ocobock, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Human Energetics Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, recently discovered some interesting facts about prehistoric women. 

In two studies published simultaneously in the journal American Anthropologist, Ocobock found that prehistoric females were capable of performing physical tasks such as hunting — and were better equipped for the task.

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Ocobock and research partner Sarah Lacy, an anthropologist at the University of Delaware, found that fossils of prehistoric women proved they had similar hunting injuries to those of men, as the University of Notre Dame noted.

Archeological evidence from their studies showed that male and female fossils had the same resulting hunting injuries — and equal rates of wear and tear. 

From that, the pair concluded that both males and females hunted in prehistoric times. 

Additionally, they found that females were often buried with weapons — something that would typically only occur if hunting or using that weapon was important to that person.

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“You don’t often get buried with something unless it was important to you or was something that you used frequently in your life,” she told Notre Dame.

Prehistoric women

Further, the published material said that female bodies were fully capable of performing the task of hunting — as female bodies are better suited for endurance activities. 

Ocobock and Lacy pointed out the specific hormones — estrogen and adiponectin — women have in their system. 

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“Estrogen is really the unsung hero of life, in my mind,” Ocobock said to the University of Notre Dame. “It is so important for cardiovascular and metabolic health, brain development and injury recovery.”

The researchers stated that estrogen regulates fat metabolism and can protect cells from damage during extended heat exposure. 

Women prehistoric era

Adiponectin, they noted, is something that females use to amplify fat metabolism. 

On top of the hormones, Ocobock said the wider hip structure of females can also be an advantage when hunting.

“With the typically wider hip structure of the female, they are able to rotate their hips — lengthening their steps,” she said. 

“When you look at human physiology this way, you can think of women as the marathon runner versus men as the powerlifters.”

Researcher and prehistoric women

Ocobock told Notre Dame that the study was important to her — and to society.

“I want people to be able to change these ideas of female physical inferiority that have been around for so long,” she said. 

“You cannot outrightly assume somebody’s abilities based on whatever sex or gender you have been assigned by looking at them.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Ocobock for further comment.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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