Where and why humans made skates out of animal bones

Dec 24, 2007

Archaeological evidence shows that bone skates (skates made of animal bones) are the oldest human powered means of transport, dating back to 3000 BC. Why people started skating on ice and where is not as clear, since ancient remains were found in several locations spread across Central and North Europe.

In a recent paper, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Dr Formenti and Professor Minetti show substantial evidence supporting the hypothesis that the birth of ice skating took place in Southern Finland, where the number of lakes within 100 square kilometres is the highest in the world.

“In Central and Northern Europe, five thousand years ago people struggled to survive the severe winter conditions and it seems unlikely that ice skating developed as a hobby” says Dr Formenti. “As happened later for skis and bicycles, I am convinced that we first made ice skates in order to limit the energy required for our daily journeys”.

Formenti and Minetti did their experiments on an ice rink by the Alps, where they measured the energy consumption of people skating on bones. Through mathematical models and computer simulations of 240 ten-kilometre journeys, their research study shows that in winter the use of bone skates would have limited the energy requirements of Finnish people by 10%. On the other hand, the advantage given by the use of skates in other North European countries would be only about 1%.

Subsequent studies performed by Formenti and Minetti have shown how fast and how far people could skate in past epochs, from 3000BC to date.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

Explore further: How were fossil tracks made by Early Triassic swimming reptiles so well preserved?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Apple trial likely to go on with new plaintiff

Dec 10, 2014

A billion-dollar class-action lawsuit against Apple will likely continue, after a 65-year-old Massachusetts business consultant read about the plaintiffs' floundering case online and volunteered to represent consumers in ...

Weathering the storm

Sep 03, 2014

Old-timers sharing childhood stories about growing up in Maine sometimes recount hiking 10 miles uphill in 3 feet of snow to get to school—and home.

Science, not muscle, driving many Olympic wins

Feb 14, 2014

Nineteen-year-old Slovakian luger Josef Petrulak competed in the Sochi Olympics in a 22-year-old sled. That's right: His sled is three years older than he is. His German rivals get a new sled every year, ...

Recommended for you

Ancient wheat points to Stone Age trading links

Feb 26, 2015

(AP)—Britons may have discovered a taste for bread thousands of years earlier than previously thought, thanks to trade with more advanced neighbors on the European continent.

Who's your daddy? Hippo ancestry unveiled

Feb 24, 2015

A great-great grandfather of the hippopotamus likely swam from Asia to Africa some 35 million years ago, long before the arrival of the lion, rhino, zebra and giraffe, researchers said Tuesday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.