Business Standard

Our ancestors used hands like modern humans

IANS  |  London 

New research suggests that our ancestors used human-like hand postures much earlier than was previously thought.

Anthropologists have produced first results to support archaeological evidence for stone tool use among australopiths - one of the longest-lived and best-known early human species - two-three million years ago.

To reach this conclusion, Matthew Skinner and Tracy Kivell from University of Kent examined the internal spongey structure of bone called trabeculae.

Trabecular bone remodels quickly during life and can reflect the actual behaviour of individuals in their lifetime.

They first examined the trabeculae of hand bones of humans and chimpanzees.

The team found clear differences between humans, who have a unique ability for forceful precision gripping between thumb and fingers, and chimpanzees, who cannot adopt human-like postures.

This unique human pattern is present in known non-arboreal and stone tool-making fossil human species such as the Neanderthals.

The findings show that Australopithecus africanus from South Africa had a human-like trabecular bone pattern in the bones of the thumb and palm consistent with forceful opposition of the thumb and fingers typically adopted during tool use.

"The results support previously published archaeological evidence for stone tool use in australopiths and provide skeletal evidence that our early ancestors used human-like hand postures much earlier and more frequently than previously considered," the authors noted.

Skinner and Kivell worked with researchers from University College London, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) and the Vienna University of Technology (Austria).

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Fri, January 23 2015. 11:54 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU