Meet the perfect, freaky Olympic bodies
If the Olympic Games teach us one thing every two years, it’s that even at the pinnacle of athletic achievement, human bodies are imperfect sporting machines. We asked evolutionary and bio-mechanical experts to figure out which traits our Olympics-optimized humanoids would need to sweep every gold medal. Here are the results.
- •CyclistFor cyclists, weight and elevation are the enemy. The ideal cyclist is light but strong and aerodynamic, yet thin. It starts, literally, at the top with a helmet-shaped head and a constricted upper body. The lower body stays big enough to be lean and strong, yet contained in the same thin frame that is similar to the bicycle they ride. Enlarged lungs and hearts provide the most essential tool: endurance.
- •High JumperFor high jumpers, clearing the bar takes a high center of gravity. It begins with a short, exceedingly skinny upper body and long, lanky legs. With shoulders as close to the hips as possible, the small torso and lower body are connected by an unassuming posterior.
- •WeightlifterBrute strength and giant muscles are a necessary trait for any Olympic weightlifter, but the length and proportionality of arms matter as well. With widened shoulders and forward-facing, protruding kneecaps, the ideal weightlifter is not just strong, but thicker and wider than any other human being. View a larger version here: http://on.wsj.com/2aXBlbz
- •SwimmerHumans are nowhere near the most efficient mammals in the water, but the particular arrangement of their limbs— two highly mobile arms and powerful legs— does make up for some of their shortcomings. To be truly optimized, however, those limbs would have needed to evolve to much larger dimensions. View a larger version here: http://on.wsj.com/2aXBlbz