Handedness

Certainty Style Key
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True   Likely   Speculative
Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Relative Difference
Human Universality: 
Individual Universal (All Individuals Everywhere)
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The question of whether non-human primates show population-level handedness remains a topic of significant debate.   Studies in captive chimpanzees with relatively large numbers of subjects (N > 200 or 300) have shown that certain tasks can elicit population-level biases such as throwing, manual gestures and tasks that require bimanual coordination (Hopkins et al, 2010, 2011; Llorente et al. 2010).   More recently, studies from wild chimpanzees and to a lesser extent gorillas have reported evidence of group level asymmeteries in hand use for some forms of tool use (wadge dipping, termite fishing, ant dipping, bimanual feeding) Notwithstanding, the ratio of right-to-left handed individuals (or vice versa) in the studies of chimpanzees is much lower (2:1 or at best 3:1) than what has been reported in humans (typically 8:1 or 9:1).   What mechanisms explain these differences is unlcear but both genetic and non-genetic factors have been proposed.  There is a definite need for further studies, particulary in different communities of wild apes in which common measures can be obtained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

  

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References

  1. Nut-cracking behaviour in wild-born, rehabilitated bonobos (Pan paniscus): a comprehensive study of hand-preference, hand grips and efficiency, Neufuss, Johanna, Humle Tatyana, Cremaschi Andrea, and Kivell Tracy L. , Am J Primatol, 2016, (2016)
  2. OH-65: The earliest evidence for right-handedness in the fossil record, Frayer, David W., Clarke Ronald J., Fiore Ivana, Blumenschine Robert J., Pérez-Pérez Alejandro, Martinez Laura M., Estebaranz Ferran, Holloway Ralph, and Bondioli Luca , Journal of Human Evolution, 2016/11, Volume 100, p.65 - 72, (2016)
  3. The evolution of the hominin thumb and the influence exerted by the non-dominant hand during stone tool production., Key, Alastair J. M., and Dunmore Christopher J. , J Hum Evol, 2015 Jan, Volume 78, p.60-9, (2015)
  4. Common variants in left/right asymmetry genes and pathways are associated with relative hand skill., Brandler, William M., Morris Andrew P., Evans David M., Scerri Thomas S., Kemp John P., Timpson Nicholas J., St Pourcain Beate, Smith George Davey, Ring Susan M., Stein John, et al. , PLoS Genet, 2013, Volume 9, Issue 9, p.e1003751, (2013)
  5. Hand preferences for coordinated bimanual actions in 777 great apes: implications for the evolution of handedness in hominins., Hopkins, William D., Phillips Kimberley A., Bania Amanda, Calcutt Sarah E., Gardner Molly, Russell Jamie, Schaeffer Jennifer, Lonsdorf Elizabeth V., Ross Stephen R., and Schapiro Steven J. , J Hum Evol, 2011 May, Volume 60, Issue 5, p.605-11, (2011)
  6. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are predominantly right-handed: replication in three populations of apes., Hopkins, William D., Wesley Michael J., M Izard Kay, Hook Michelle, and Schapiro Steven J. , Behav Neurosci, 2004 Jun, Volume 118, Issue 3, p.659-63, (2004)