Persistence hunting

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Persistence hunting, also known as endurance hunting or long-distance hunting is a variant of pursuit predation in which a predator will bring down a prey item via indirect means, such as exhaustion, heat illness or injury.[1][2] Hunters of this type will typically display adaptions for distance running, such as longer legs,[3] temperature regulation,[4] and specialized cardiovascular systems.[5]

Some endurance hunters may prefer to injure prey in an ambush before the hunt and rely on tracking to find their quarry. Hadza hunter-gatherers do not persistence hunt, but they do run in short bursts while hunting small game.

Hadza hunting party

Humans and ancestors[edit]

Humans are some of the best long distance runners in the animal kingdom;[6] some hunter gatherer tribes practice this form of hunting into the modern era.[7][8][9] Homo sapiens have the proportionally longest legs of all known human species,[3][10][11] however all members of genus Homo have cursorial adaptions not seen in more arboreal hominids such as chimpanzees and orangutans.

Persistence hunting can be done by walking, but with a 30 to 74% lower rate of success than by running or intermittent running. Further while needing 10 to 30% less energy, it takes twice as long. Walking down prey, however, might have arisen in Homo erectus, preceding endurance running.[12]

Other mammals[edit]

Wolf pack hunting a bull elk

Wolves,[13][14] dingoes,[15] and painted dogs are known for running large prey down over long distances. All three species will inflict bites in order to further weaken the animal over the course of the hunt. Canids will also pant when hot. This has the double effect of cooling the animal via the evaporation of saliva while also increasing the amount of oxygen absorbed by the lungs. Despite their similar body shape, other canids are opportunistic generalists that can be broadly categorized as pursuit predators.

Wolves may have been initially domesticated due to their similar hunting techniques to humans.[16][17] Several breeds of domestic dog have been bred with endurance in mind, such as the malamute, husky and Eskimo dog.

Spotted hyenas utilize a variety of hunting techniques depending on their chosen prey. They will occasionally use a similar strategy to canid endurance hunters, though their proportionally shorter legs makes this less effective.


Komodo dragon eating a water buffalo. Persistence predators can hunt prey many times their size.

No extant members of Archelosauria are known to be long-distance hunters, though various bird species may employ speedy pursuit predation. Living crocodilians and carnivorous turtles are specialized ambush predators and rarely if ever chase prey over great distances.

Within Squamata, varanid lizards possess a well developed ventricular septum that completely separates the pulmonary and systemic sides of the circulatory system during systole[5]—this unique heart structure allows varanids to run faster over longer distances than other lizards.[5] They also utilize a forked tongue to track injured prey over large distances after a failed ambush. Several monitor lizard species such as Komodo dragons also utilize venom to ensure the death of their prey.[18][19]

Extinct species[edit]

Sprawling and erect hip joints - horizontal

Little evidence exists for endurance hunting in extinct species, though potential candidates include the dire wolf Aenocyon dirus due to its similar body shape to modern grey wolves.

Non-avian theropod dinosaurs such as derived tyrannosauroids and troodontids display cursorial adaptions[20] which may have allowed for long-distance running. Derived theropods may have also had an avian style flow-through lung, allowing for highly efficient oxygen exchange.

Some non-mammalian theriodonts may have been capable of running relatively long distances due to their limbs having an erect stance as opposed to the sprawling stance of contemporary synapsids and reptiles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Krantz, Grover S. (1968). "Brain size and hunting ability in earliest man". Current Anthropology. 9 (5): 450–451. doi:10.1086/200927. S2CID 143267326.
  2. ^ Carrier, David R. (August–October 1984). "The Energetic Paradox of Human Running and Hominid Evolution". Current Anthropology. 25 (4): 483–95. doi:10.1086/203165. JSTOR 2742907. S2CID 15432016.
  3. ^ a b Carretero, José-Miguel; Rodríguez, Laura; García-González, Rebeca; Arsuaga, Juan-Luis; Gómez-Olivencia, Asier; Lorenzo, Carlos; Bonmatí, Alejandro; Gracia, Ana; Martínez, Ignacio; Quam, Rolf (February 2012). "Stature estimation from complete long bones in the Middle Pleistocene humans from the Sima de los Huesos, Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain)" (PDF). Journal of Human Evolution. 62 (2): 242–255. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.11.004. PMID 22196156. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  4. ^ The evolution of sweat glands. Folk & Semken Jr. 1991. p. 181.
  5. ^ a b c Wang, Tobias; Altimiras, Jordi; Klein, Wilfried; Axelsson, Michael (December 2003). "Ventricular haemodynamics in Python molurus : separation of pulmonary and systemic pressures". Journal of Experimental Biology. 206 (23): 4241–4245. doi:10.1242/jeb.00681. PMID 14581594. S2CID 25934805.
  6. ^ Bramble, Dennis M.; Lieberman, Daniel E. (November 2004). "Endurance running and the evolution of Homo" (PDF). Nature. 432 (7015): 345–352. Bibcode:2004Natur.432..345B. doi:10.1038/nature03052. PMID 15549097. S2CID 2470602. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 December 2023. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  7. ^ Lieberman, Daniel E.; Bramble, Dennis M.; Raichlen, David A.; Shea, John J. (October 2007). "The evolution of endurance running and the tyranny of ethnography: A reply to Pickering and Bunn (2007)". Journal of Human Evolution. 53 (4): 439–442. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2007.07.002. PMID 17767947. S2CID 14996543. Archived from the original on 31 January 2024. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  8. ^ Lieberman, Daniel E.; Mahaffey, Mickey; Cubesare Quimare, Silvino; Holowka, Nicholas B.; Wallace, Ian J.; Baggish, Aaron L. (1 June 2020). "Running in Tarahumara (Rarámuri) Culture: Persistence Hunting, Footracing, Dancing, Work, and the Fallacy of the Athletic Savage". Current Anthropology. 61 (3): 356–379. doi:10.1086/708810. S2CID 219067151.
  9. ^ David Attenborough (25 August 2010). "The Intense 8 Hour Hunt". The Life of Mammals. BBC. Archived from the original on 31 January 2024. Retrieved 10 May 2023 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Stewart, J.R.; García-Rodríguez, O.; Knul, M.V.; Sewell, L.; Montgomery, H.; Thomas, M.G.; Diekmann, Y. (August 2019). "Palaeoecological and genetic evidence for Neanderthal power locomotion as an adaptation to a woodland environment" (PDF). Quaternary Science Reviews. 217: 310–315. Bibcode:2019QSRv..217..310S. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.12.023. S2CID 133980969. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 December 2023. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  11. ^ Trinkaus, Erik (1981). "Neanderthal limb proportions and cold adaptation". In Stringer, Chris (ed.). Aspects of Human Evolution. Taylor & Francis. pp. 187–224. ISBN 978-0-85066-209-2.
  12. ^ Hora, Martin; Pontzer, Herman; Struška, Michal; Entin, Pauline; Sládek, Vladimír (2022). "Comparing walking and running in persistence hunting". Journal of Human Evolution. 172: 103247. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2022.103247. ISSN 0047-2484. PMID 36152433. S2CID 252445717.
  13. ^ Mech; Smith; MacNulty (2015). Wolves on the Hunt: The Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey. University of Chicago Press. pp. 82–89. ISBN 978-0-226-25514-9.
  14. ^ Thurber, J. M.; Peterson, R. O. (30 November 1993). "Effects of Population Density and Pack Size on the Foraging Ecology of Gray Wolves". Journal of Mammalogy. 74 (4): 879–889. doi:10.2307/1382426. JSTOR 1382426.
  15. ^ Corbett, L. K. (2001). The Dingo in Australia and Asia. J. B. Books. pp. 102–123. ISBN 978-1-876622-30-5.
  16. ^ Larson, Greger; Bradley, Daniel G. (16 January 2014). "How Much Is That in Dog Years? The Advent of Canine Population Genomics". PLOS Genetics. 10 (1): e1004093. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004093. ISSN 1553-7390. PMC 3894154. PMID 24453989.
  17. ^ Frantz, Laurent A. F.; Bradley, Daniel G.; Larson, Greger; Orlando, Ludovic (August 2020). "Animal domestication in the era of ancient genomics" (PDF). Nature Reviews Genetics. 21 (8): 449–460. doi:10.1038/s41576-020-0225-0. PMID 32265525. S2CID 214809393. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 April 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  18. ^ Fry, Bryan G.; Wroe, Stephen; Teeuwisse, Wouter; van Osch, Matthias J. P.; Moreno, Karen; Ingle, Janette; McHenry, Colin; Ferrara, Toni; Clausen, Phillip; Scheib, Holger; Winter, Kelly L.; Greisman, Laura; Roelants, Kim; van der Weerd, Louise; Clemente, Christofer J. (2 June 2009). "A central role for venom in predation by Varanus komodoensis (Komodo Dragon) and the extinct giant Varanus (Megalania) priscus". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 106 (22): 8969–8974. Bibcode:2009PNAS..106.8969F. doi:10.1073/pnas.0810883106. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 2690028. PMID 19451641.
  19. ^ Fry, Bryan G.; Vidal, Nicolas; Norman, Janette A.; Vonk, Freek J.; Scheib, Holger; Ramjan, S. F. Ryan; Kuruppu, Sanjaya; Fung, Kim; Blair Hedges, S.; Richardson, Michael K.; Hodgson, Wayne. C.; Ignjatovic, Vera; Summerhayes, Robyn; Kochva, Elazar (February 2006). "Early evolution of the venom system in lizards and snakes". Nature. 439 (7076): 584–588. Bibcode:2006Natur.439..584F. doi:10.1038/nature04328. PMID 16292255. S2CID 4386245.
  20. ^ Persons IV, W. Scott; Currie, Philip J. (27 January 2016). "An approach to scoring cursorial limb proportions in carnivorous dinosaurs and an attempt to account for allometry". Scientific Reports. 6 (1): 19828. Bibcode:2016NatSR...619828P. doi:10.1038/srep19828. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 4728391. PMID 26813782.