Male Sweating

An Interesting Tidbit on the Evolution of Human Males
May 26th, 2010

Now here’s an interesting abstract of a paper entitled "Maximal Sweating Rate in Humans". What makes this interesting to me is the following statement:

"...the sweating capacity in the female was less than that in the male"

This is important because it supports a hypothesis regarding early hominid hunting practice. That hypothesis states that an important factor in hominid hunting success was the ability of the hunter to maintain exertion in the hot African savannah longer than its prey animals. This permitted a hunting style in which the hunter threw rocks at the prey, which ran away. The hunter then patiently tracked the prey and threw more rocks. This process continued until the prey was overcome with heat exhaustion.

The human sweating mechanism is hypothesized to have been a critical factor in this hunting strategy. Profuse sweating keeps the body temperature within safe bounds. Prey that don’t sweat cannot cool as rapidly as the pursuing hunters. Thus, sweating conferred a major advantage upon hunters.

We know that modern hunter-gatherer groups employ strong gender specialization, with females doing most of the gathering and males doing most of the hunting. This small datum -- that males sweat more than females -- lends support to the hypothesis that this gender specialization extended back to earlier hominid times.