Why Are We Right-Handed?

A variety of studies suggest that 70-90% of the world’s population is right-handed. For those of us who are right-handed, you might wonder where this trend began. An interesting article from Science News caught my eye, stating the Neanderthals were mostly right-handed as well. Researchers have dated back right-handedness as far as half a million years ago and scratched up fossil teeth are the cause.

It has been presumed that the Neanderthals and European ancestors were right-handed because there are scratches present at angles denoting right-handedness on the front teeth of most of these people. Scientists have linked the population being mostly right-handed with the left brain hemisphere controlling movement of the body’s right side and critical language function.  With this new tooth evidence, populations of mostly right-handed ancestors must have had more advanced linguistics than was previously expected.

Findings suggest that most of these European ancestors were right-handed at least 500,000 years ago and that the capacity for language seems to have a more ancient background. Humanlike inner-ear fossils as well as proven right-handedness show that Neanderthals were capable of hearing modern sounds. On the other hand, vocal-tract reconstructions with skull and upper-body fossils show that Neanderthals were physically incapable of speaking modern sounds. With this, Scientists believe that language as we understand it today, originated in Homo sapiens about 200,000 years ago.

If you would like to read more about the Neanderthals please visit Science News at:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/73648/title/Most_Neandertals_were_right-handers

Written by: Melissa Marques

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