Breathing control

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Breathing control

I've previously read and heard about what great long distance runners humans are, we may not be the strongest or fastest or have the most poisonous bite, but besides our big brains, this was/is one of our 'things' that gave us an edge.

I've also heard that one of the reasons for our proficiency at this is that we have amongst the best control of our breathing in the animal kingdom (on land at least I think) as well as the way our skeletons and muscles are etc.

I've just started reading "The ancestors tale" by Richard Dawkins, and when he was writing about when our ancestors may have started to speak he mentions one fossil (Turkana Boy) that the "portholes" in the vertebrae are too small, suggesting he didn't have the fine control over breathing associated with speech.

This got me thinking, could the very fact that we were physiologically predisposed to be good at long distance running have been a driving factor in our evolotion of fine control over breathing and hence have contributed to our development of speech and the growth of our brains?

Tell me if this is a dumb idea!

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I think it's an interesting

I think it's an interesting question and worth looking into, with an open mind about what came first and what caused what.  It's also possible that survival advantages conferred by speech ability caused breath control to be selected for.

I think it would be important to look at other land mammals that are good at long-distance travel (e.g. dogs and wolves) to see if their breath control correlates.  Breath control may not be important at all for long-distance travel.  Efficiency might be more important.

Also there's a question of whether or not there's a cost associated with improved breath control.  What do we give up because of it? 

But probably the key relationship to look at is great apes, since they have poor breath control (and lack speech). So it must have been some environmental pressure that happened after the split that resulted in the difference.  Probably most of the evidence is in hominids.

Ultimately it may not be an answerable question, but still fun to speculate about. 

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert

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 I always thought horses

 I always thought horses were good long distance runners.

Sounds made up...
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