Why Are Women Shorter Than Men?
A new study found that if you want to know the answer to this question, you have to go all the way back to our ancestors and how they may have evolved differently. It's said that over time, males became taller and stronger on average, while females became shorter and more robust-likely as a result of natural selection.
On average, men are 74.98 inches (1.94 meters) tall while women are 70.58 inches (1.78 meters). While this difference may be small, it exists in all human populations and is even present in children before puberty starts to take effect. It's also not the only example of gender differences affecting height; for instance, males on average have longer legs than females do-which could be due to more time spent walking upright on the savannahs where humanity evolved, scientists say.
The real question though is why did females become shorter? The answer lies in our ancient past! A new study suggests that the modern-day height difference between genders arose over 10 million years ago when early hominids were still evolving. According to this new theory, the ancestral hominid that led to modern humans was a relatively short gender-neutral ancestor with no significant height differences between males and females, but about 2 million years later they split into two distinct lineages occurred.
One lineage gave rise to gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons - these are all primates so obviously most of them are not men! The other lineage eventually led to the ancestors of modern humans including Homo sapiens. These ancient forefathers split off because their diet shifted from being mostly vegetarian to more meat-based.
This shift in diet meant that they needed larger teeth which is why they evolved bigger jaws for chewing harder food supplies like roots and tough vegetables. Obviously, size matters when it comes to producing bigger teeth and jaws-and that meant that the men of this early Homo genus needed wider shoulders for the increased muscle mass. Because they were on average about 20 percent taller than their female counterparts in early human history, natural selection favored these larger males over females because they were able to throw rocks better or fight off predators more effectively, which gave them a greater chance at survival.
In this new theory, males became taller because being so allowed them to become stronger fighters and hunters! This evolutionary trend-led women to evolve into shorter stockier builds that made birthing larger babies with big heads slightly easier. Since most modern humans have a head about 10 percent of our total height, by evolving to be shorter women were better suited for giving birth.
This evolutionary shift in height is why there are still differences between male and female skeletons today, even though most of the rest of our biology has equalized. So, the thought that men became tall because they evolved to hunt or fight is already false-they got this way first then developed hunting/fighting skills on top of their stature.
The study was published recently in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.