Chimps handier than humans - study
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London - Human hands may be less evolved than those of chimpanzees, research suggests.
The strongly held notion that the human hand, with its long opposing thumb, was shaped by intelligent tool-making is misplaced, some scientists believe.
Instead it is the chimpanzee whose hands have shown the biggest changes – evolving not to build houses, fly planes or tap computer keyboards, but to hang from branches. Anatomical analysis shows the thumb-to-finger ratio is much the same in very early humans as it is in people living today and in gorillas, suggesting a link with a dextrous common ancestor.
In contrast chimps from the species Pan, as well as orangutans, have grown elongated fingers ideally suited for life in the trees.
The scientists led by Dr Sergio Almecija, from Stony Brook University in New York, wrote in the journal Nature Communications that humans have only slightly modified their finger and thumb lengths and this ‘almost certainly preceded regular stone culture’.
The researchers measured the hand proportions of humans, living and extinct apes and the fossil bones of our ancestors.