At least according to a new study, which looked at 120 years of data and came to a rather depressing conclusion: we’ve peaked as a species.
Professor Jean-François Toussaint of Paris Descartes University says there appears to be “maximum thresholds” of age, height, strength and sporting ability that we have now reached.
“These traits no longer increase, despite further continuous nutritional, medical, and scientific progress,” he said in a new paper published in scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology.
While more people reach these thresholds as incomes and technology improve, none appear to be able to break them.
“This suggests that modern societies have allowed our species to reach its limits. We are the first generation to become aware of this.”
Sporting records are taking longer to break than they used to – no one has beaten Usain Bolt’s 100-metre and 200-metre records of 2009, for example. Before 2008, the 200-metre record went unbroken for 22 years.
The confirmed oldest person who ever lived was Jeanne Clement, who died 20 years ago aged 122.
Swimming saw records tumble in recent years, but much of that was put down to hi-tech swimsuits – and it’s been suggested many will never be broken again, with international swimming bodies banning the suits.
Prof Toussaint says humanity may now be on the decline, with climate change taking its toll.
“Human height has decreased in the last decade in some African countries; this suggests some societies are no longer able to provide sufficient nutrition for each of their children and maintain the health of their younger inhabitants.”
Age and health statistics should continue to improve however, as much of the world lags behind the proposed maximum thresholds – so there’s plenty of room to improve yet.
“Now that we know the limits of the human species, this can act as a clear goal for nations to ensure that human capacities reach their highest possible values for most of the population,” says Prof Toussaint. (Newshub)