Where can you find the world�s tallest men? That�s obvious. On the NBA court, right? True, but scientists wanted to trace the origins of tall people. Among the tallest NBA players are Slavko Vranes from Montenegro at seven feet five inches and Rik Smits � the �Dunking Dutchman� at seven feet four inches.
It turns out they do come from countries where we find the tallest men: in the Netherlands, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Why does this area of the Balkans harbor a cluster of tall people?
Their genetics point back to the Upper Paleolithic Gravettian culture. These people were big game hunters whose diet included mammoth, bison, horse, and reindeer. They lived ten to fifty thousand years ago during the last glacial maximum. The Gravettian males averaged almost six feet, towering over other ancient males who averaged at or below five feet. Their height is partly due to an abundant source of protein and the presence of high calcium levels in water sources in the Dinaric Alps.
But genetics also play a factor. A researcher studied three thousand young Bosnian and Herzegovinian students and found many carry a common haplogroup called I-M-one-seventy. A haplogroup is a group of genes inherited together and that share a common ancestor. This haplogroup is found in people in the Balkans with the highest frequency seen in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Males here average six-foot-one making them the world�s tallest.
To confirm the ancient link, they identified this haplogroup in the remains of a Gravettian who lived more than 30,000 years ago.
For more information…
The Tallest Men in the World Trace Back to Paleolithic Mammoth Hunters
A prehistoric population of mammoth hunters gave rise to some of the tallest men on the planet, new research suggests...