women hunter

Fossil bones have also shown that many women suffered the same injuries as men. Image: Pixabay

Study reveals that prehistoric women also hunted

A recent study challenges some common assumptions about ancient hunter-gatherer societies, particularly around women’s roles.

women hunter

Fossil bones have also shown that many women suffered the same injuries as men. Image: Pixabay

The traditional belief that men were the primary hunters while women took on gathering roles in prehistoric times has been blown out of the water.

A new study suggests that women played a significant and perhaps dominant role in hunting during this period. Historically, societal perceptions have distorted women’s roles, often depicting men as hunters with spears and women as caregivers or crop gatherers.

ALSO READ: Without urgent action, climate will warm by 3 degrees – report

This new research shows that this wasn’t the case. To begin with, there were simply not enough people to assign specific tasks to different genders. Everyone had to pitch in with duties, including hunting. The female anatomy, which is better suited for endurance, was the key to their success.

Women are built for stamina

Endurance “would have been critical in early hunting because they would have had to run the animals down into exhaustion before actually going in for the kill,” said co-author Cara Ocobock. Men are stronger and have more power and speed. But women have stamina.

ALSO READ: Radio personality disappears in crocodile-infested wetland

Biologically, women possess higher levels of estrogen and adiponectin. Estrogen enables women to burn stored fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, providing for a longer-lasting and more efficient use of energy, while delaying fatigue.

Adiponectin protects muscles from breaking down. Additionally, women’s wider hips also allow them to rotate their hips more and lengthen their stride, the study said.

ALSO READ: Abused seals relocated after years of overfeeding and ‘tourist selfies’

“The longer steps you can take, the ‘cheaper’ they are metabolically, and the farther you can get, faster,” Ocobock explains. “When you look at human physiology this way, you can think of women as the marathon runners versus men as the powerlifters.”

Further fossil evidence

Fossil bones have also shown that both sexes suffered the same injuries from the same era and community, suggesting large animals had kicked and bitten them.

ALSO READ: R9.8 million worth of ‘perfume’ found inside dead whale

Another bit of evidence that prehistoric women also hunted is that they were buried with hunting weapons by their side. The study questions why these women would be entombed forever with such implements if they had no meaning in their lives.