Handy Human Hands

Let’s give evolution a high five! Literally!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Primates are our closest relative. But our hands evolved very differently. They don’t have nearly the dexterity we do. How did we humans get to be so…handy?

Many anthropologists think it’s because we developed tools. However, Tracy Kivell at the University of Kent thinks there’s more to the story.

Before typing and texting, our hands were using tools to make meals. The most prized meal? Delicious, nutritious bone marrow!

Researchers outfitted nearly forty volunteers with pressure sensitive gloves. They were asked to perform paleolithic tasks – everything from making tools to cracking nuts to harvesting bone marrow!

The gloves recorded LOW finger forces during nut cracking. However, far greater forces were required when making stone tools, and breaking bones to extract marrow!

The researchers believe that a taste for bone marrow led us to develop tougher, more nimble hands!

So while a handshake might be a little awkward, I’m sure our primate cousins would still appreciate a good ol’ fistbump!