Handedness and the evolution of tool use in humans

Author(s): P. Schoenemann; Lindsey Kitchell

Year: 2015


The right-handed bias in humans is significantly stronger at the population level than what has been found for other primates. The functional connection this might have with the elaboration of tool use in general, and stone tool making in particular, has long been of interest. Tracing the development of handedness in the fossil record would allow for an assessment of the degree to which handedness is associated with technological advances evident in the archaeological record. The extent to which handedness can actually be assessed in fossils is a first step towards understanding this relationship. Research relevant to this question will be reviewed, including a study of 71 healthy human subjects for which brain asymmetries were first assessed from MRI, followed by an analysis of whether these correlated with handedness and throwing accuracy. A number of areas showing significant brain asymmetry were found, including primary motor areas devoted to the hand, left occipital and right frontal petalias (protrusions), and cerebellar areas involved in motor coordination. The extent to which these asymmetries correlate with handedness and throwing accuracy will be discussed, and will be integrated into a review of what is known about fossil hominin brain asymmetries.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Handedness and the evolution of tool use in humans. P. Schoenemann, Lindsey Kitchell. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395522)