Hand preferences for coordinated bimanual actions in 777 great apes: implications for the evolution of handedness in hominins.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hopkins, William D; Phillips, Kimberley A; Bania, Amanda; Calcutt, Sarah E; Gardner, Molly; Russell, Jamie; Schaeffer, Jennifer; Lonsdorf, Elizabeth V; Ross, Stephen R; Schapiro, Steven J
Year of Publication: 2011
Journal: J Hum Evol
Volume: 60
Issue: 5
Pagination: 605-11
Date Published: 2011 May
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-8606
Keywords: Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Biological Evolution, Female, Functional Laterality, Hominidae, Locomotion, Male, Posture, Species Specificity

Whether or not nonhuman primates exhibit population-level handedness remains a topic of considerable scientific debate. Here, we examined handedness for coordinated bimanual actions in a sample of 777 great apes including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. We found population-level right-handedness in chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, but left-handedness in orangutans. Directional biases in handedness were consistent across independent samples of apes within each genus. We suggest that, contrary to previous claims, population-level handedness is evident in great apes but differs among species as a result of ecological adaptations associated with posture and locomotion. We further suggest that historical views of nonhuman primate handedness have been too anthropocentric, and we advocate for a larger evolutionary framework for the consideration of handedness and other aspects of hemispheric specialization among primates.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.12.008
Alternate Journal: J. Hum. Evol.
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