AuthorTopic: Why the female of the species is more bendy than the male  (Read 177 times)

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 16315
    • View Profile
Why the female of the species is more bendy than the male
« on: February 03, 2020, 06:19:55 AM »
It has been obvious to anyone watching Strictly Come Dancing that women tend to be more flexible than men.

For every supple Flavia Cacace, there's a slightly more stiff and awkward Gethin Jones.

Now scientists think they know the answer why.

A study suggests that females have a stronger and more bendy, lower back than males.

The differences evolved over millions of years to let expectant mothers stay mobile during pregnancy without the weight of a baby causing them to topple over.

The findings come from a study of the backbones of modern women, two-million-year-old human fossils and chimpanzees - our closest relatives in the wild.

Women typically put on between 25lb and 35lb during pregnancy.

The extra weight shifts a woman's centre of gravity far in front of her hips - and makes it much harder to stay upright - which is why she needs a bendy back.

"Pregnancy presents an enormous challenge for the female body," said Dr Katherine Whitcome of Harvard University, who led the study published today in Nature.

"The body must change in dramatic ways to accommodate the baby and these changes affect a woman's stability and posture. It turns out that the enhanced curvature and reinforcement of the lower spine are key to maintaining normal activities during pregnancy."

The study of 19 pregnant women found that when standing, they lean back and increase the curvature of the spine by 60 per cent.

That brings the centre of gravity back above their hips.

The extra bendiness is possible because the curvature takes place in the lower spine, or lumbar region, over three vertebrae in women - compared with only two in men. The female joints are also larger and flare out further down the spine than those of men - improving their spine's strength.

The differences in the lower back aren't just useful for pregnancy - they might also help women carrying babies in their arms.

When the researchers looked at the spines of our ancient ancestors living at least two million years ago, they found similar differences between males and females.

"Early women lived very strenuous active lives and pregnant females were forced to cope with the discomfort of childbearing while foraging for food and escaping from predators," said coauthor Dr Daniel Lieberman from the University of Texas at Austin.

"This helped early women to remain more mobile during pregnancy, which would have been essential to survival, and appears to have been favoured by natural selection."
NECROCAPITALISM at ‘Rolling thunder. Shock. A noble one in fear and dread sets things in order and is watchful.’ I-Ching (Hex.51)


Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
23 Replies
Last post November 21, 2012, 07:26:55 PM
by Petty Tyrant
11 Replies
Last post June 10, 2015, 01:27:18 PM
by azozeo
0 Replies
Last post June 09, 2020, 07:02:52 AM
by Eddie