Well, we’re not the only animals that don’t have fur – we evolved in Africa, where it’s warm across a broad area most of the time. We didn’t need fur. The problem there is keeping cool, not keeping warm. Our bare skin allows us to sweat profusely and cool ourselves effectively while being active in the hot sun – conditions that would cause many furred animals to succumb. It’s an adaptation to heat – that it’s no good in cold conditions doesn’t make it a weakness.
As for claws – apes don’t have them. They have simple fingernails. This aids in gripping branches and tools. Claws could be damaged or get in the way. Apes don’t require claws to kill things, so they lost them in favor of a better design for their environment. Killing is done by hitting, flailing, with teeth, or with tools.
I think the primary mistake people make when considering human strength is to assume that tool use isn’t part of humans. But, of course, it is – it’s instinctive for humans to use tools, and it’s ubiquitous in human cultures. Humans lost some of their physical weaponry because they switched to using artificial weaponry, and didn’t need it any longer. That use of artificial weaponry is entirely natural, and cannot be discounted. It’s what makes humans such a formidable species. Tools ARE a human’s natural form of self-defense.
Humans did not learn to use tools — our ancestor species were using tools long before they became humans. Human evolution was shaped by tool use.
In terms of general physical fitness, though, don’t go by the abilities of soft office workers in developed countries. Our species is capable of a form of hunting known as persistence hunting. In this form of hunting, a group of hunters will find a large, fit male hoofed animal – one with large horns or antlers. Then one will begin to chase it – at a leisurely jog. In the full heat of the day. The animal will easily outpace them, but using tracking techniques, the hunter will continue to follow. His companions will follow behind at a walk.
The animal will repeatedly startle and bolt away. But the human will keep jogging, and inevitably, always catch up again. Over and over. The heat gets to the buck, but it cannot rest, because the human is still coming. Eventually, the animal collapses from heat stress and exhaustion, and the spear the hunter uses to finish it off is simply a formality. It would likely have died anyhow. The rest of the hunting party eventually arrives, and they cut up and haul the animal back to the rest of the tribe.
Our bare skin and ability to sweat allows us to take the heat – our stamina allows us to jog all day if we need to. Our tools allow us to kill anything we wish to kill. We are not a weak species.
Author: , Reptile keeper and breeder, wildlife observation and ecology hobbyist.