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What's Up Magazine

Pitch Perfect: What really separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom?

Aug 19, 2014 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
Human beings, it turns out, are completely unique in their ability to throw—even when compared to our chimpanzee cousins. At least that is the finding of a study conducted at George Washington University and published last year in the journal Nature. “Chimpanzees are incredibly strong and athletic,” says Dr. Neil Roach of GW’s Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology, “yet adult male chimps can only throw about 20 miles per hour—one third the speed of a 12-year-old little league pitcher.”

Two million years ago we started developing the physical traits (shoulders, arms, torsos) that enabled us to hurl rock at prey with impressive accuracy and speed. “Eating more calorie-rich meat and fat would have allowed our ancestors to grow larger brains and bodies and expand into new regions of the world—all of which help make us who we are today,” concludes Roach.—S.H.

Bottom Line: Who knew? “He’s a truly evolved human being,” may be a surprisingly accurate description for either Stephen Strasburg or Chris Tillman.