An worldwide tem of researchers from the United States and Spain has found that human hands are likely more primitive than those of other primates, such as the chimpanzees.
Unlike chimps, but more like gorillas, human hands have long thumbs in relation to their index fingers.
Kurtis Hiatt, researcher at the George Washington University, explained that the new study shows how the structure of the human hand is quite primitive, compared to that of the chimp, regardless of the fact that our hands are more capable of producing stone tools. According to its findings, our hands are more primitive than we would have thought while those of chimps have undergone more changes (and are thus more evolved) throughout time.
“Our results indicate that our overall hand proportions haven’t changed that much-they have been inherited from a last common ancestor that was, in this respect, more similar to a human than to a chimpanzee”, lead author Sergio Almécija of Stony Brook University in New York told The Christian Science Monitor. For example, the hands of the human beings are more anatomically primitive than the hands of dexterous chimpanzees, according to Science Mag. A new study reveals that human hands are actually less developed in terms of evolution than a chimp’s hand. Meaning, the changes that allowed humans to adapt to make and use tools were neurological rather than evolutionary changes.
Humans like to think of themselves as the peak of the evolutionary tree, honed by millions of years of evolution that sets us apart from our closest animal cousins.
Almécija suggests the hands of early humans as far back as 6 million years ago may have been similar as well, Sciencereports.
‘However, since the molecular revolution in the 1980-1990s, which provided unequivocal evidence for humans and chimpanzees being sister taxa, a prevalent and influential evolutionary paradigm has assumed that the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans was similar to a modern chimpanzee.
To get a grasp on what early hands really looked like, Almécija and his colleagues analyzed the thumb and finger proportions of a large number of living apes and monkeys, including modern humans. The scientific communality informs that this has allowed human beings to evolve a very precise grip, ti the point where our fingers can even touch. This is problematic because hands provide only a limited view of the common ancestor.
A model of hand evolution over the millennia was constructed with the data.
“This paper serves as a poster child for what is wrong with a lot of work in paleoanthropology”, she said.