Title

Hand Preference for Coordinated Bimanual Actions in 777 Great Apes: Implications for the Evolution of Handedness in Hominins

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2011

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.

Document Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.12.008

Publisher

Elsevier

Publication Information

Journal of Human Evolution

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