Bone Ice Skates Invented for Travel

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Human travelers from five millennia ago raced across icy lakes on skates made from animal bones, reports National Geographic News on research appearing in this month’s Linnean Society of London Biological Journal.

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Skating was originally devised for transportation—not for fun—according to the study. In their report, researchers from Italy and the U.K. examined some of the numerous ice-skating artifacts from throughout Scandinavia and Russia, which were made from animal bones (especially horse bones) and have been dated back to 3000 BC.

The team concluded that those living in what is now southern Finland would have had the most to gain from skating as a form of transportation, with skating reducing physical energy expenditures by 10 percent. This area has more lakes within 40 sq. mi. (100 km2) than any other region in the world.

In other areas of northern Europe, the reduction in energy expenditures would have only amounted to about one percent.

“People developed this ingenious locomotion tool in order to travel more quickly and by using not as much energy as if they had walked around all the lakes,” said study coauthor Federico Formenti of the University of Oxford. Formenti’s team tested replicas of bone skates at an ice rink, measuring skaters’ heart rates, oxygen use, and speed.

Anthropologists theorize that cross-country skis arose around the same time, also in Scandinavia.

It’s always fascinating to read about the ingenuity of the humans that came before us—back to our ancestor Adam, to Tubal-Cain (forger of bronze and iron tools), to Noah and his sons, who followed God’s blueprint for the Ark. Humans were created by God not as mentally deficient “cavemen,” but rather as fully intelligent beings in His image—in fact, beings that were, before the Fall, most likely more intelligent than the brightest minds today!

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