4

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Do body somatotypes exist with hunter-gatherers?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 22, 2011 at 1:10 AM

From photographs it seems that most of them are ectomorphs and mesomorphs. Did the endomorph body type come along with agriculture?

How much does diet come into play?

I know that this isnt a hard science but a kenyan runner will never be a powerlifter and vice versa no matter how much diet and exercise routine is changed.

Here is an overview of the body types;

http://www.brianmac.co.uk/bodytype.htm

Also according to this article at least there are genes involved. Those with ACE II will not be able to get as ripped or put on bulky muscle but will have a long life and good endurance.

http://www.mindandmuscle.net/articles/the-skinny-fat-ectomorph-part-i/

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on September 23, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I'm thinking more of muscle mass, and having more strength than the other 'morphs. Essentially there are some types that are 'genetically gifted' at adding mass, be it lean or fat, and others that are not so.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 12:21 PM

'Endomorphs' aren't characterized by sturdy/broad frames; they have high body and fat mass. I don't think there are any ethnic groups who will be naturally chubby eating an ancestral, low-grain diet from birth...

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Frame size and muscle fiber type is what I am mostly interested in. I agree about the leanness part but that is only a small piece of the puzzle. Someone that is slow twitch dominant will have a hard time building bulk, will be slow in a sprint but great in endurance. A mesomorph is great at everything and an endomorph is strong as shit but will never win a marathon. Samoans are in general endomorphs. I saw a square endomorph at the gym today repping 315lb squats as I would rep an empty bar (Im ectomporph). But I almost never run & smoked my endomorph buddy who has been running for a yr

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 01:47 AM

2nd is a very interesting article, thanks! I am a naturally lean, strong ectomorph and feel blessed. Also, I need to eat more...

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4 Answers

3
417ac0e162dc468b8ca61a574e5cd3c0

on September 22, 2011
at 02:23 AM

The formal concept of 3 or so somatotypes is most certainly a human invention of the post-paleolithic age. It is likely due to the physical differentiation which occurs when you subject slightly different (genetically) humans to a non-congruent/inappropriate environment.

But it is a great question because it opens up a larger discussion. That is to say: Why is there genetic diversity among humans? I am no expert on evolutionary bio. literature, but it is my understanding that evolution sculpted our species not just by eliminating "unfit" individuals, but also by eliminating unfit pods/clans/tribes/social structures. This leads to the idea that a clan or tribe that was too genetically-uniform was at a distinct disadvantage due to lack of physical trait diversity. Even though we think of hunter/gatherers as generalists the truth is hunter-gather social structure requires sub-specialists in order to flourish. Therefore, it would serve the clan/tribe unit to have physical(genetic)-diversity (naturally-gifted sub-specialists) among the several dozen members of the community. A tribe needs some folks who can move heavy objects, some folks that can run forever, some folks who get pregnant when you look at them, some folks who are homing pigeons, some folks who can climb tress, etc. An appropriately-diverse (genetically) tribal unit would have advantages in dealing with the daily challenges of the ever-changing habitat.

3
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on September 22, 2011
at 01:44 AM

Humans in their natural state seem to have BMIs on the lower side, be fairly to very lean (depending mostly on how much starch they consume), and have a much higher proportion of people with slender/gracile bone structure than I see in most modern populations. I can't think of any exceptions.

Ethnic groups who these days have skyrocketing numbers of obese individuals, in the old days or with a more ancestral diet (or in their youth, still) were the more mesomorphic/muscular populations (according to old pictures I've seen, anyway). I'm thinking particularly of many people in Western Africa, many Pacific Islanders, Austrilian Aborigenes, and Western Native Americans (who often tend towards a more barrel chested build).

I've read recent research which found that high blood sugar and insulin levels in a pregnant mother results in their offspring having both thicker bone mass/larger frame size, and an increased risk of being overfat to obese in adulthood. Food for thought.

1
Medium avatar

on September 22, 2011
at 03:11 AM

I've always thought that somatotypes sounded like bro-science to me. When I hear people say they can't get that lean because they were born an "endo" it reeks of defeatism. It's like saying you can't be nice because you were born a Taurus or some other nonsense. For a male, assuming that you don't have an endocrine disruption of some kind and assuming that you haven't gotten too fat in the past and endured adipocyte hyperplasia etc., nothing should really be out of reach. Similarly, an androgen deficiency could be the sole reason why someone thinks they're an "ecto." The reason why I have very little muscle is because I stupidly avoided animal products for years and probably got a zinc deficiency and low testosterone as a result.

The real perceptible genetic/epigenetic differences come down to frame size which is as simple to gauge as a wrist measurement.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on September 22, 2011
at 03:32 AM

Frame size and muscle fiber type is what I am mostly interested in. I agree about the leanness part but that is only a small piece of the puzzle. Someone that is slow twitch dominant will have a hard time building bulk, will be slow in a sprint but great in endurance. A mesomorph is great at everything and an endomorph is strong as shit but will never win a marathon. Samoans are in general endomorphs. I saw a square endomorph at the gym today repping 315lb squats as I would rep an empty bar (Im ectomporph). But I almost never run & smoked my endomorph buddy who has been running for a yr

0
Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

on September 22, 2011
at 04:13 AM

A little armchair conjecture, but I what first came to mind about not seeing any pictures of HGs that are endomorph, is that possibly the majority of HGs that were largely comprised of endos are now part of modern society. I'm thinking of Northern Europeans (Germanic primarily) and those of Slavic descent too. When I think of barrel-chested individuals, I think of Germany, Scandinavia, Poland, Parts of Russia, Lithuania, etc.

Although this is probably influenced heavily by certain images of peoples that are put forth by the media.

The one thing that I do find interesting is the body frame diversity among current western civ populations, as compared to many modern HGs, being that most tribes tend to have rather uniform body frame, and western civ has widely varying size, even among those of similar ethnic background.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on September 22, 2011
at 12:21 PM

'Endomorphs' aren't characterized by sturdy/broad frames; they have high body and fat mass. I don't think there are any ethnic groups who will be naturally chubby eating an ancestral, low-grain diet from birth...

Db4ad76f6f307a6f577e175710049172

(2297)

on September 23, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I'm thinking more of muscle mass, and having more strength than the other 'morphs. Essentially there are some types that are 'genetically gifted' at adding mass, be it lean or fat, and others that are not so.

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