Why Does Body Size Vary Geographically?

Paleo diet proponents may be interested in the article below. I new that Norwegians tended to be very tall, but didn’t know that folks from the Netherlands and Balkan countries were taller.

I don’t know much about deer and elk hunting, but my impression is that colder climates tend to produce to larger animals.

Much larger than Coue’s deer we have in hot Arizona

Abstract:

Humans show marked variation in body size around the world, both within and among populations. At present, the tallest people in the world are from the Netherlands and the Balkan countries, while the shortest populations are central African Pygmies. There are genetic, genetic plasticity, developmental, and environmental bases for size variation in Homo sapiens from the recent past and the present. Early populations of Homo species also have shown considerable size variation. Populations from the present and the past are also marked by sexual dimorphism, which, itself, shows group variation. There is abundant evidence for the effects of limited food and disease on human growth and resultant adult body size. This environmental influence has been reflected in “secular trends” (over a span of years) in growth and adult size from socioeconomic prosperity or poverty (availability of resources). Selective and evolutionary advantages of small or large body size also have been documented. Heritability for human height is relatively great with current genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identifying hundreds of genes leading to causes of growth and adult size variation. There are also endocrinological pathways limiting growth. An example is the reduced tissue sensitivity to human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in Philippine and African hunter-gatherer populations. In several short-statured hunter-gatherer populations (Asian, African, and South American), it has been hypothesized that short life expectancy has selected for early maturity and truncated growth to enhance fertility. Some island populations of humans and other mammals are thought to have been selected for small size because of limited resources, especially protein. The high-protein content of milk as a staple food may contribute to tall stature in East African pastoral peoples. These and other evolutionary questions linked to life history, male competition, reproduction, and mobility are explored in this paper.

Source: Evolutionary Strategies for Body Size. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s