The man known as the “barefoot running professor”—Dr. Daniel Lieberman—made a special appearance on The Colbert Report last week. On the show, Lieberman talked about barefoot running and how and why human bodies developed to conquer long distances.
“Human beings are among the best long distance runners in the world, and one of the reasons we’re so good is because we’re good at sweating,” Lieberman said, after explaining that four-legged animals cannot cool themselves in this way during exercise. “Let’s imagine two million years ago, you’re a hunter in the middle of Africa. People haven’t invented a spear [or] the bow and arrow and you want to get dinner for your family. What you do is you chase an animal, make it gallop, the animal then hides in the bushes, and you track and chase it again. You keep doing this until the animal overheats and you can kill it without any technology.”
Lieberman, the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard and head of the university’s Skeletal Biology Lab, handled Colbert’s jokes and antics with ease.
“Could we still do this?” Colbert (who wore Vibram Five Fingers for the occasion) asked. “Could I run down an antelope?”
“Watching the way you ran over here, you have such good form I bet you’d have no problem,” Lieberman replied.
Watch the entire interview in the clip above.