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Title: Let’s Play at Digging: How Vigorous Is This Energetic Task for a Young Forager?
Authors: Mateos Cachorro, Ana
Zorrilla-Revilla, Guillermo
Rodríguez, Jesús
Keywords: Digging;Energetics;Foraging;Childhood;Adolescence
Issue Date: Jun-2022
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Human Nature, 2022, 33(2), 172–195
Abstract: Extractive foraging tasks, such as digging, are broadly practiced among hunter-gatherer populations in different ecological conditions. Despite tuber-gathering tasks being widely practiced by children and adolescents, little research has focused on the physical traits associated with digging ability. Here, we assess how age and energetic expenditure affect the performance of this extractive task. Using an experimental approach, the energetic cost of digging to extract simulated tubers is evaluated in a sample of 40 urban children and adolescents of both sexes to measure the intensity of the physical effort and the influence of several anatomical variables. Digging is a moderately vigorous activity for inexperienced girls and boys from 8 to 14 years old, and it requires significant physical effort depending on strength and body size. However, extracting subterranean resources is a task that may be performed effectively without previous training. Sex-specific and age-specific differences in the net energy expenditure of digging were detected, even though both sexes exhibited similar proficiency levels when performing the task. Our results highlight that both boys and girls spend considerable energy while digging, with differences largely driven by body size and age. Other factors beyond ability and experience, such as strength and body size, may influence the proficiency of juveniles in performing certain physically intensive foraging tasks, such as gathering tubers.
DOI: 10.1007/s12110-022-09428-w
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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