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    danhaych's Avatar
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    How big was Grok?

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    I have a lot of curiosities about diet and nutrition as it's part of what I'm studying and its quite controversial for me to consider recommending this diet to people considering it is not taught as a healthy diet. I have yet to engage in a discussion with my peers on the subject as I don't feel I know enough yet.

    May be a stupid question but how sure are we that Grok as you call him, was actually big and muscular? How can we know that just from bone fossils? For all we know Grok could have been a fatty? I naturally have trouble putting on weight so I cant really say going Primal has helped me with reduced fat mass.

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    Lumifer's Avatar
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    It's highly unlikely Grok looked like a contemporary bodybuilder ("big and muscular"). He was smaller than contemporary humans and lean and muscular. Look at pictures of hunter-gatherer tribes.

    Grok was also preoccupied with staying alive. That probably involved fattening up during times of plenty and losing that weight when food was hard to find.

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    We can determine how active and strong a person was by some features of the bones that develop during the person's lifetime in response to stress on the bones. A strong person's bones will be very dense and rigid, and the parts where lean tissue connects to the bones will be prominent. These features are very common in paleolithic bones. Lumifer is right, a lean build was probably more common than bulky one, but there would have been variations between groups in different climates as well as on an individual basis, just like how there are many different body types today.

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danhaych View Post
    May be a stupid question but how sure are we that Grok as you call him, was actually big and muscular? How can we know that just from bone fossils? For all we know Grok could have been a fatty? I naturally have trouble putting on weight so I cant really say going Primal has helped me with reduced fat mass.
    The Palaeolithic/Mesolithic was a vast time period. There was a fair amount of variation among hominids. (And, to make matters worse, we only have what was accidentally preserved and has turned up.)

    Homo Floriensis was tiny:

    Hobbit-Like Human Ancestor Found in Asia

    Some Paleo Diet enthusiasts are rather unscrupulously hasty in claiming that everyone in the past was bigger, faster, stronger, healthier. They do that mainly on account that that is what they would like to believe. But, yeah, it would seem to be true up to a point.

    You can actually link "muscular" and "bone fossils" inasmuch as a more muscular individual is going to have more robust bones. The usual explanation for that is that the muscles will pull on the bones through their attachment points and that will cause the bones to thicken. That's more-or-less what's said here:

    ... all of which reflects great variation in the magnitudes of biomechanical loads and the behaviors that produce them ...
    Skeletal Robusticity | CARTA

    I'm not convinced that's the whole of it. The article I cite also mentions:

    ... genetically-mediated adaptations for functionally competent skeletal systems ...
    I guess that's a compact (but verbally-congested) way of saying:

    (1) there will be variation among individuals in a population as regards any feature;
    (2) some features (such as thicker bones and larger muscles) may confer survival advantage in some situations;
    (3) that will mean that individuals with those features can come to predominate in a population over time.

    I think there may be an additional factor that they're missing -- namely, that skeletal robustness is probably also dependent on the supply of bone-building nutrients in the diet.

    Weston Price has photos of pre-Columbian and post-Columbian North American Indian skulls in his book. The former are thicker. Now, this isn't going to be something mechanical: they weren't banging their heads on the ground!

    This would seem to be down to change in diet.

    Fig.27.jpg

    Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Chapter 6

    It doesn't, however, follow that a hunter-gatherer diet is the only good diet for skeletal health. For example, skeletal remains indicate that some Ancient Scythians were massive -- far bigger built than most modern individuals. These people were herders not hunter-gatherers. And, again, the diet of agriculturalists (as opposed to pastoralists) can be good. If it's heavily cereal-based and not much else, it's not going to be; but if there's adequate protein in the diet and an adequate supply of minerals and fat-soluble vitamins, then it'll be fine.

    In fine, there's something in this, but people tend to exaggerate and to draw absolute distinctions where there are really more complex things going on.
    Last edited by Lewis; 04-02-2013 at 02:09 PM.

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    On height...

    Paleolithic man (around 30,000BC) was 5'10" on average.

    Height dropped by about 4"+ after the dawn of agriculture.

    Slowly increased back to around 5'10" for an American male today.

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    Many modern hunter gatherers look very lean. Both in lean mass and fat, almost like runners.

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    Thanks for posting all that Lewis

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