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Title: Right-handed fossil humans
Authors: Lozano Ruiz, Marina
Estalrrich, Almudena
Bondioli, Luca
Fiore, Ivana
Bermúdez de Castro, José María
Arsuaga, Juan Luis
Carbonell, Eudald
Rosas, Antonio
Frayer, David
Keywords: Laterality;Labial tooth striations;Archaic Homo;Neandertals
Issue Date: Dec-2017
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: Evolutionary Anthropology, 2017, 26 (6), 313–324
Abstract: Fossil hominids often processed material held between their upper and lower teeth. Pulling with one hand and cutting with the other, they occasionally left impact cut marks on the lip (labial) surface of their incisors and canines. From these actions, it possible to determine the dominant hand used. The frequency of these oblique striations in an array of fossil hominins documents the typically modern pattern of 9 right- to 1 left-hander. This ratio among living Homo sapiens differs from that among chimpanzees and bonobos and more distant primate relatives. Together, all studies of living people affirm that dominant right-handedness is a uniquely modern human trait. The same pattern extends deep into our past. Thus far, the majority of inferred right-handed fossils come from Europe, but a single maxilla from a Homo habilis, OH-65, shows a predominance of right oblique scratches, thus extending right-handedness into the early Pleistocene of Africa. Other studies show right-handedness in more recent African, Chinese, and Levantine fossils, but the sample compiled for non-European fossil specimens remains small. Fossil specimens from Sima del los Huesos and a variety of European Neandertal sites are predominately right-handed. We argue the 9:1 handedness ratio in Neandertals and the earlier inhabitants of Europe constitutes evidence for a modern pattern of handedness well before the appearance of modern Homo sapiens.
ISSN: 1060-1538
DOI: 10.1002/evan.21554
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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