The New York Times is getting up to speed on this subject:
The scientific evidence supports the notion that humans evolved to be runners. In a 2007 paper in the journal Sports Medicine, Daniel E. Lieberman, a Harvard evolutionary biologist, and Dennis M. Bramble, a biologist at the University of Utah, wrote that several characteristics unique to humans suggested endurance running played an important role in our evolution.
Most mammals can sprint faster than humans — having four legs gives them the advantage. But when it comes to long distances, humans can outrun almost any animal. Because we cool by sweating rather than panting, we can stay cool at speeds and distances that would overheat other animals. On a hot day, the two scientists wrote, a human could even outrun a horse in a 26.2-mile marathon.
I wrote about this five years ago in an early post:
Cursorial hunters that hunt in packs occupy a pretty specialized ecological niche. It’s probably not a coincidence that we took up company with another species that occupied the same niche: dogs. We just ran into them along the way.
And, as I pointed out in that post, the idea was first proposed well over a century ago by Friedrich Engels (yes, that Engels).
The key to good science isn’t data collection or experimentation or grant-writing. It’s observation and we moderns do not have a corner on that market.