Links & Resources




CUNY Physical Anthropology




Healthy as a Hadza

Cardiovascular disease is the number one most common cause of death in the US and throughout the industrialized world. Here, we show that Hadza adults show almost no sign of developing heart disease as they age, maintaining healthy blood pressures and cholesterol levels into their 60's and 70's. We also report on the high levels of moderate & vigorous physical activity (MVPA) that characterize daily life for Hadza men and women - about 135 minuted of MVPA per day, or about 15-times more than typical adults in the US. Lesson: get outside and move! to keep your heart healthy.

Article: Raichlen et al. 2016 American Journal of Human Biology

Media Coverage
NPR, New York Times
Laboratory Equipment

healthy hadza

Photo: Brian Wood

Samuel Urlacher awarded NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship

The lab welcomes our newest member, Dr. Sam Urlacher, who recently earned his PhD in Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. Sam will be investigating energetic trade-offs between growth and immune function among children in two Shuar communities in rural Ecuador. Welcome Sam!

Read some of Sam's research here:
+Heterogeneous effects of market integration on sub-adult body size and nutritional status among the Shuar of Amazonian Ecuador
+The application of knemometry to measure childhood short-term growth among the indigenous Shuar of Ecuador

+Physical growth of the shuar: Height, Weight, and BMI references for an indigenous amazonian population

...and others here


sam field

Dr. Sam Urlacher during fieldwork in Papua New Guinea

Humans, the High Energy Ape

Humans have the largest brains, biggest babies, fastest rates of reproduction, longest lives, and most physically demanding lifestyles of any living hominoid. How do we fuel these energetically costly traits? Measuring total energy expenditure in chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans at zoos and sanctuaries around the U.S., we found that humans have evolved a faster metabolic rate than our closest living relatives. Previously, it had been thought that metabolic rates were stable and unchanging in human evolution. Our findings provide a new framework for interpreting the human fossil record and understanding the evolution of the adaptive suite that makes our species unique.

Article: Pontzer et al. 2016 Nature

Media Coverage
Science, Washington Post
The Atlantic,
Quirks & Quarks



Rethinking Exercise and Energy Expenditure

More physical activity means more calories burned per day - or so goes the standard view in public health. Our measurements of 332 adults across 5 countries indicate that the relationship between activity and energy expenditure is more complicated. Moderately active individuals expended ~200 kcal/day more than the most sedentary subjects. But, above moderate activity levels, daily energy plateaued. These results indicate that the body adapts dynamically to increasing activity levels to keep daily energy expenditure in check.

Article: Pontzer et al. 2016 Current Biology

Media Coverage
The Atlantic, CNN, CBC

the atlantic

Exercise in Futility in The Atlantic by Olga Khazan



New York Times RetroReport January 2016

Herman Pontzer discussing activity and energy expenditure among the Hadza hunter-gatherers, and the implications for managing our health and weight.

How much Sleep is "Natural" for Humans?

How has the widespread use of electric lighting changed the way we sleep? One longstanding hypothesis in public health is that our 'modern', electrified lifestyles is keeping us up at night and robbing us of the sleep we need. We tested this idea by measuring sleep patterns in three traditional populations without access to electricity. Surprisingly, these populations slept the same amount, on average, as folks in the U.S. and other industrialized countries.

Article: Yetish et al. 2015 Current Biology

Media Coverage
The Atlantic
New York Times: Well Blog


vocativ sleep image San Foragers, photo: Vocativ

Primates: Now with Only Half the Calories

Humans and other primates have the slowest rates of growth and reproduction, and the longest lifespans, of any mammalian order. The mechanism underlying our remarkably slow life histories was unknown. We compared total energy expenditure (kcal/day) for primates against similar measures from other placental mammals. We found that primates expend only half the calories expected for their body size, and that this low rate of energy expenditure accounts for primates' slow pace of life.

Article: Pontzer et al. 2014 PNAS

Media Coverage
New York Times Observatory
New Scientist


chimpsChimpanzees at Lincoln Park Zoo

Efficient Foraging among the Hadza

Super-efficient search patterns known at "Levy flights" have been observed in a wide range of species, from honeybees to sharks, as well as in urban human populations. Our recent analysis of forays among the Hadza, collected from wearable GPS units, shows that traditional hunter-gatherers use these same patterns. This suggests Levy flights may be a common behavior across all human populations, including our archeological ancestors.

Article: Raichlen et al. 2014. PNAS

Media Coverage
New York Times WellBlog
New York Times Observatory

NPR 13.7blog


Hadza men

Hadza men out on a foray. Photo by Brian Wood

Hunter-Gatherer Energetics & Modern Human Obesity

Many researchers and public health workers (like the World Health Org.) have argued that the increase in obesity in the U.S. and Europe is due to the sedentary Western lifestlye. Our measures of daily energy expenditure in Hadza hunter-gatherers challenges this idea. Instead, the calories burned per day appear to be similar across foragers, Westerners, and other diverse lifestlyes. In turn, these results suggest that habitual energy expenditure is similar for all humans regardless of lifestyle. Physical activity is still very important for health, but population-level differences in obesity are likely due to differences in food consumption, not activity levels.

Article: Pontzer et al. 2012 PLoS ONE

Media Coverage

California Watch
Daily Mail

NSF Highlight for this project

hadza man hunting

A Hadza man stalking zebra. To learn more about the Hadza visit the Hadza Fund. Photo: Brian Wood.

New York Times summary of this research:

Debunking the Hunter-Gatherer Workout

Orangutan Energetics
Our measurements of daily energy expenditure in orangutans show that they expend only 33% of the calories expected for a mammal their size. This may be an adaptation to their extremely unpredictable habitat, and opens a new avenue of research into ape ecology and evolution.

Article: Pontzer et al. 2010 PNAS

Media Coverage
National Public Radio
New York Time
Science Magazine
Discovery News


Warm Blooded Dinosaurs
Applying the biomechanic-energetic models developed for human and ape gait to dinosaurs, we found that many theropod dinosaurs were probably warm-blooded.

Article: Pontzer, Allen & Hutchinson 2009 PLoS One

Media Cov
Wired Magazine
Quirks & Quarks (listen to mp3)
Daily Telegraph


Ape Energetics & Hominin Evolution
Measurements and biomechanical modeling of walking cost in apes, humans, and fossil hominins suggests that Australopithecus and later hominins had more efficient locomotion than that of apes. However, adopting a bipedal gait likely had no effect on walking cost for the earliest hominins.

Pontzer et al. 2009 Journal of Human Evolution
Sockol et al 2007 PNAS
Media Coverage
Science Magazine
National Ge
Smithsonian Magazine
Scientific American

Long Legs Lower the Cost of Locomotion

Articles: Pontzer, 2007a, 2007b, and 2005 J Exp Biol.

Media Coverage
Nature News
Inside JEB
Science Daily