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Hand preferences for coordinated bimanual actions in 777 great apes: Implications for the evolution of handedness in Hominins

William D. Hopkins; Kimberley A. Phillips; Amanda Bania; Sarah E. Calcutt; Molly Gardner; Jamie Russell; Jennifer Schaeffer; Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf; Stephen R. Ross; Steven J. Schapiro

(Profiled Author: Steven J Schapiro)

Journal of Human Evolution. 2011;60(5):605-611.

Abstract

Whether or not nonhuman primates exhibit population-level handedness remains a topic of considerable scientific debate. Here, we examined handedness for coordinated bimanual actions in a sample of 777 great apes including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. We found population-level right-handedness in chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas, but left-handedness in orangutans. Directional biases in handedness were consistent across independent samples of apes within each genus. We suggest that, contrary to previous claims, population-level handedness is evident in great apes but differs among species as a result of ecological adaptations associated with posture and locomotion. We further suggest that historical views of nonhuman primate handedness have been too anthropocentric, and we advocate for a larger evolutionary framework for the consideration of handedness and other aspects of hemispheric specialization among primates. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


PMID: 21334723     PMCID: PMC3068228    

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