to be posted on

Neil T. Roach
c/o Department of Human Evolutionary Biology
Peabody Museum
11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

Dear Dr. Roach:
I was delighted to read your article.  (Neil T. Roach et al. Elastic Energy Storage in the Shoulder and the Evolution of High-Speed Throwing in Homo NATURE vol. 498 no. 7455 June 27, 2013 page 483)  My own interest is in the mechanism of inbreeding and outbreeding depression. I enclose a copy of a paper I was involved with.  The subject has everything to do with human evolutionary biology although from a demographic rather than a biomechanical point of view, so this is off topic for me, but your paper did get me thinking.

If I am truly primitive in my technology and am trying to survive in a benign environment I am drawn first not to hurling spear or stone nor stabbing with a spear.  My first impulse is to thwack a prospective meal with a stick.  Sticks leave no record and modern hunter gatherers do not use them.  All the convenient animals are gone.  But sticks remain popular.  Swords and canes were popular in the past.  Tennis, golf and yes baseball involve striking with the equivalent of sticks.  When we do staged combat sword fighting the attack is not a poke but a whack.  And despite its danger sword fighting has been very popular.

Maybe some day somebody is going to do a paper on the biomechanics of striking.  Wouldn’t that be fun?


M. Linton Herbert MD 

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