Humans apparently have a broken version of CMP-Neu5Ac Hydroxylase (CMAH), which helps build a sugar molecule that impacts running:
Despite our couch potato lifestyles, long-distance running is in our genes. A new study in mice pinpoints how a stretch of DNA likely turned our ancestors into marathoners, giving us the endurance to conquer territory, evade predators, and eventually dominate the planet.
“This is very convincing evidence,” says Daniel Lieberman, a human evolutionary biologist at Harvard University who was not involved with the work. “It’s a nice piece of the puzzle about how humans came to be so successful.”Elizabeth Pennisi, “This broken gene may have turned our ancestors into marathoners—and helped humans conquer the world” at Science
The changes are estimated to have happened between two and three million years ago. We are cautioned that “Mice are not humans or primates,” says Best’s adviser at UMass, Jason Kamilar, a biological anthropologist also not involved with the new work. “The genetic mechanisms in mice may not necessarily translate to humans or other primates.”
It may turn out that more than genetic mechanisms are involved. Humans who succeed at running train both body and mind for the purpose. And there is a whole culture around running. We aren’t born swift, only “swift-able.” One could just as easily turn around and write a pop science story on how we “evolved to be” couch potatoes.
See also: Researcher asks, if ecology caused the human brain to grow so large, what about the role of language?
Human evolution researchers: Social challenges decreased brain size.