6 comments on “Ancient and Modern Human Heights

  1. “Short People are just the same as you and I…all men are brothers until the day they die.” Randy Newman- “Short People”.

    The world would be a different place without them despite what Randy Newman states in the rest of the song. lol

    I am still trying to figure out why ancient men were on average much taller the closer they were to the North and South Poles, the Scandinavians and the Fuegians. The only rational theory that I can come up with is that both had a diet which consisted mostly of fish or animals that consumed nothing but fish. It is hard to eat fish without also consuming a large quantity of calcium in the form of Bones. All this extra Calcium maybe?


  2. Well look what I found, here’s something interesting…

    In both the far northern and far southern latitudes there is naturally less vitamin D produced from exposure to sunlight due to the long winters and minimal solar cycle. And as we know vitamin D is very important for the processing of Calcium. So even a diet high in Calcium does absolutely no good without proper levels of vitamin D to absorb the calcium, this causes the body to eat away at it’s own bones and calcium reserve causing rickets and osteoporosis. So this alone would be a problem in my theory.


    But… This may help support my theory. Even though they lacked enough needed exposure to produce vitamin D they had a diet that would more than compensate for this! Fish is absolutely the best source of additional natural vitamin D. So these peoples had a very high intake of both Calcium and Vitamin D!


    How convenient for them that mother nature made this adjustment! They would not have survived long without it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Norsemen were, in fact, taller than other Europeans of their times with an average height for males ranging between 5.7 ft to 6 ft. A lot of factors are at play when it comes to height and one is genetics. Genes affect the endocrine system and the pituitary gland which produces several hormones including HGH (human growth hormone). HGH along with enzymes (IGF-1) produced in the liver promote bone and muscle growth.

    Nutrition is also another influence. We know that poor nutrition in childhood and adolescence often has a negative impact on height among other things. The Vikings did farm somewhat but raising food animals and fishing were far more popular. This along with the Medieval Warm Period and lower population likely resulted in a better food supply and a healthier food supply than most Europeans. Also, consider that famines were likely less severe than they were in lower Europe.

    Disease plays another factor. There are a number of childhood and adolescence disease which can affect height. In general, the better ones diet the less likely one is to be sick. Frankly, I think the Vikings ate better or more nutritiously than did most Europeans of the time and this contributed to not only their generally good health but height and strength.

    As a side note mtDNA shows that about 63% of Vikings married and interbred with captured women mostly of Celtic origin. The remaining 37% of women were Norsewomen. This statistic is for Icelanders btw. Another interesting fact is that about 80% of Icelanders were Vikings while 20% were Celts.

    Getting back to height, the Vikings were taller than most Europeans of their time because the Vikings were in better health, simply.

    Overall, the Vikings were not all that much taller than Europeans. Yes a few were over 6 ft and at least one Viking ruler or Jarl was so tall that his feet touched the ground as he rode atop his steed! People who were invaded by the Vikings feared their ruthlessness more than their height.

    In terms of nutrition, Vit D, and calcium you are definitely onto something. Nutrition I think is very important to general health and height development but there are also other factors at play including environment. Further, Europeans tended to become dependent on grains while the Vikings were more over-dependent on meat and fish.

    I also want to note one other things that I’ve heard several times. Remember those old 60’s Viking movies starring Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas? Hollywood built Viking ships according to known specifications of real Viking ships. When they got ready to film using these actors and extras (all average modern men) there was a BIG problem on set. The men rowing the oars of the Hollywood reproductions were too big! They couldn’t complete a full range row without hitting the guy behind them. So Hollywood producers had to remove some of the oar stations.

    Good points about Vit D and calcium JR. Diet IS important and if you compare Viking diets to European diets you find Viking diets tended to be healthier than most.


  4. I like little tidbits in history like the Movie Viking Ship situation. These prove things are not always what they seem. 🙂

    As for the Hereditary influences, I suppose certain traits can accumulate like becoming tall as a result of diet being passed on?


    • I think they could. Fact is we still don’t know everything about how health or disease may affect us and our offspring in the long term. We like to pretend like we know it all but we don’t and that becomes obvious when new discoveries are made such as finding out all that “junk DNA” in us isn’t “junk” at all or finding out that the appendix actually still serves a function connected to our immune system.


      • Yes, A hundred years from now we will be looking back and wondering how we could be so ignorant. Just like we do now.

        Did you get my latest email Sir? 🙂


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