Prehistoric women believed to be hunters, not just gatherers, in new study of hormones and genetics

Newly published studies suggest that maybe women didn’t actually spend all of their time in the kitchen back in the day — as people believed for so long.

Cara Ocobock, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Human Energetics Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, recently discovered some interesting facts about prehistoric women. 

In two studies published simultaneously in the journal American Anthropologist, Ocobock found that prehistoric females were capable of performing physical tasks such as hunting — and were better equipped for the task.

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Ocobock and research partner Sarah Lacy, an anthropologist at the University of Delaware, found that fossils of prehistoric women proved they had similar hunting injuries to those of men, as the University of Notre Dame noted.

Archeological evidence from their studies showed that male and female fossils had the same resulting hunting injuries — and equal rates of wear and tear. 

Cara Ocobock of the University of Notre Dame (pictured) found that women actually did hunt in prehistoric times.  (SWNS)

From that, the pair concluded that both males and females hunted in prehistoric times. 

Additionally, they found that females were often buried with weapons — something that would typically only occur if hunting or using that weapon was important to that person.

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“You don’t often get buried with something unless it was important to you or was something that you used frequently in your life,” she told Notre Dame.

Prehistoric woman and man hunting

The studies said women were doing more than just preparing food and taking care of the children during prehistoric times.  (iStock)

Further, the published material said that female bodies were fully capable of performing the task of hunting — as female bodies are better suited for endurance activities. 

Ocobock and Lacy pointed out the specific hormones — estrogen and adiponectin — women have in their system. 

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“Estrogen is really the unsung hero of life, in my mind,” Ocobock said to the University of Notre Dame. “It is so important for cardiovascular and metabolic health, brain development and injury recovery.”

The researchers stated that estrogen regulates fat metabolism and can protect cells from damage during extended heat exposure. 

Women prehistoric era

The studies found that women were made for endurance activities due to their genetic makeup.  (iStock)

Adiponectin, they noted, is something that females use to amplify fat metabolism. 

On top of the hormones, Ocobock said the wider hip structure of females can also be an advantage when hunting.

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“With the typically wider hip structure of the female, they are able to rotate their hips — lengthening their steps,” she said. 

“When you look at human physiology this way, you can think of women as the marathon runner versus men as the powerlifters.”

Cara Ocobock and prehistoric hunters

Researchers found that women did more than just gathering during prehistoric times.  (SWNS/iStock)

Ocobock told Fox News Digital this week in an email that the findings are important to her — and to society.

“I believe this work is important for reshaping how we approach reconstructions of our past,” she said. 

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“Early work in this area was conducted by men who placed an outsized importance [on] the roles men played in our evolution often to the exclusion of women,” she continued. 

“However, the more evidence we have, the more we see that women played an equal role in labor and obtaining sustenance.”

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