Human evolution is marked by two important locomotor transitions. First, a shift to bipedal walking is associated with the origins of the the human lineage. Second, increased aerobic activity levels likely evolved with the adoption of a hunting and gathering lifestyle during the early evolution of our genus. Our lab is interested in how these changes in locomotion and aerobic activity influenced human anatomy, physiology, neurobiology, and life history. In the end, we believe that a full understanding of our evolutionary history will help explain how and why our current, more sedentary lifestyle impacts our physical and mental health.
Our research program has three main components:
1) Reconstructing activity levels during human evolution (evolutionary biomechanics)
2) Linking physical activity to physiology and neurobiology in extant humans and other taxa
3) Exploring energetics and activity levels in extant taxa, including human hunter-gatherers
Tying together these three components allows us to more fully understand how increased aerobic activity levels affected the trajectory of human evolution.
Raichlen, D.A., Polk, J.D. (2013) Linking brains and brawn: exercise and the evolution of human neurobiology. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 280: 20122250
Raichlen, D.A.,Foster, A.D., Gerdeman, G.L., Seillier, A., Giuffrida, A. (2012) Wired to run: exercise-induced endocannabinoid signaling in humans and cursorial mammals with implications for the 'runner's high'. Journal of Experimental Biology. 215:1331-1336.
Pontzer, H. Raichlen, D.A., Wood, B.M., Mabulla, A.X., Racette, S.B., Marlowe, F.W. (2012) Hunter-gatherer energetics and human obesity. PLoS ONE. 7:e40503.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D. (2011) Relationship between exercise capacity and brain size in mammals. PLoS ONE. 6: e20601.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Sechrest, W. (2011) Bioenergetic constraints on primate abundance.
International Journal of Primatology. 32: 118-133.
Raichlen, D.A., Armstrong, H., Lieberman, D.E. (2011) Calcaneus length determines running
economy: Implications for endurance running performance in modern humans and Neandertals.
Journal of Human Evolution. 60: 299-308.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Harcourt-Smith, W.E.H., Foster, A.D., Haas. W.R.Jr. (2010) Laetoli
footprints preserve earliest direct evidence of human-like bipedalism. PLoS ONE. 5: e9769
Pontzer, H., Raichlen, D.A., Shumaker, R.W., Ocobock, C., Wich, S.A. (2010) Extremely low
energy expenditure in free living Orangutans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Raichlen, D.A., Gordon, A.D., Muchlinksi, M.N., Snodgrass, J.J. (2010) Causes and significance of
variation in mammalian basal metabolism. Journal of Comparative Physiology B. 180: 301-