Right-handedness prevailed even in prehistoric humans

April 20th, 2011 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 20 (IANS) Right handedness prevailed even in pre-historic humans and it goes back more than half a million years as a study of markings on fossilized front teeth show.

David Frayer, professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, and his colleagues in Croatia, Italy and Spain, show that distinctive markings on fossilized teeth correlate to the right or left-handedness of individual prehistoric humans, the journal Laterality reports.

“The patterns seen on the fossil teeth are directly and consistently produced by right or left hand manipulation in experimental work,” Frayer said, according to a Kansas statement.

The oldest teeth come from a more than 500,000-year-old chamber known as Sima de los Huesos near Burgos, Spain, containing the remains of humans believed to be ancestors of European Neanderthals.

“These marks were produced when a stone tool was accidentally dragged across the labial face (around the mouth) in an activity performed at the front of the mouth,” said Frayer.

“The heavy scoring on some of the teeth indicates the marks were produced over the lifetime of the individual and are not the result of a single cutting episode.”

Overall, Frayer and his co-authors found right-handedness in 93.1 percent of individuals sampled from the Sima de los Huesos and European Neanderthal sites.

“It is difficult to interpret these fossil data in any way other than that laterality was established early in European fossil record and continued through the Neanderthals,” said Frayer.

“This establishes that handedness is found in more than just recent homo sapiens.”

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