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Were people shorter in the middle ages?

When talking about human evolution, I've heard several people comment that humans used to be a lot smaller, and that we can tell this by the size of the doors in old houses.

I don't believe this to be true as evolution is a much slower process.

However I've heard this so many times, I'm wondering why this has come about, and if there is any truth to it?

Is there any evidence to show a change in average height in the last 500 years or so?

marked as duplicate by Sklivvz Apr 20 '12 at 10:27

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    Can't provide references, but I suspect nutrition would be the main difference. – Andrew Grimm Apr 20 '12 at 8:30
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    I'm assuming the claim is limited to the last few hundred years - i.e. the period for which houses are still extant. Going back 100,000 years will give a completely different story. – Oddthinking Apr 20 '12 at 8:35
  • @Oddthinking Yes thats right, because of the reference to houses. I think they're mainly referring to era's such as the English Tudors (1500s/1600s). – Curt Apr 20 '12 at 8:38
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    @AndrewGrimm While it may have had a lot to do with nutrition at the time, one could go back to hunter gatherer tribes that ate mostly fruits, berries, veggies, and meat. They had a more diverse diet than the typical medieval peasant which ate mostly grains, starches and legumes thus were about as tall and strong as a modern first-world human today (although much leaner). – maple_shaft Apr 20 '12 at 15:11

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