Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A slow trek towards starvation: Scott's polar tragedy revisited

Date:
June 29, 2012
Source:
Society for Experimental Biology
Summary:
On the centenary of Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole, a new study has shown that Scott's men starved to death because they were consuming far too few calories to fuel their daily exertion.

On the centenary of Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole, a study to be presented at the Society for Experimental Biology meeting on July 1 has shown that Scott's men starved to death because they were consuming far too few calories to fuel their daily exertion.

The researchers, environmental physiologist Dr Lewis Halsey of the University of Roehampton and polar explorer and physician Dr Mike Stroud, examined the voyage in light of today's knowledge of nutrition and how our bodies respond to extreme exercise, cold, and high altitude. They determined that their rations, which consisted of biscuits, pemmican, butter, sugar, chocolate, cereals and raisins, and were supplemented by pony meat at the start of the expedition, were inadequate.

Dr Lewis Halsey said, "There has been much speculation about what Scott died of. Almost certainly his death was due to chronic and extreme emaciation."

While consuming around 4,400 kcal/day, the men probably burnt nearly 7,000 kcal/day hauling their supplies on sledges across the ice and snow (based on data from Stroud's Antarctic crossing). For comparison, elite cyclists covering 4,900 km over 6 days use around 6,500 kcal/day. So Scott and his men were exhibiting daily activity levels considerably higher than most Olympic athletes in full training, but without consuming the enormous amount of food required to fuel such exertion.

In addition to the calorie deficit, the rations were too high in protein and low in fat to be optimal. Rations with more fat provide more energy for the same weight, which is a critical consideration when supplies must be carried. Although Scott made his rations more fat-rich than other polar rations had been, with 24% fat and 29% protein, today's adventurers eat up to 57% fat with 8% protein.

According to the study, other factors also worked against Scott's team. For instance, vitamins were not yet known about and there was some confusion at the time about which foods would prevent scurvy. While it is not clear whether the men developed scurvy, they probably did not consume enough vitamin C. On the other hand, the team did have a form of cocaine on hand, to help them keep going when they had run out of food.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Experimental Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Experimental Biology. "A slow trek towards starvation: Scott's polar tragedy revisited." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629120447.htm>.
Society for Experimental Biology. (2012, June 29). A slow trek towards starvation: Scott's polar tragedy revisited. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629120447.htm
Society for Experimental Biology. "A slow trek towards starvation: Scott's polar tragedy revisited." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629120447.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Isolated N. Korea Asks For International Help With Volcano

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) Mount Paektu volcano in North Korea is showing signs of life and there's not much known about it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins