Teachers, TV shows and scientific studies have all told us ever since we were little that human beings are the most evolved creatures on the planet. We have intelligent, independent thoughts and complex, nuanced ways of communicating them, we give meaning to everything and we constantly learn social, practical and entertaining skills.
But a new study says that one area where chimps have us outmatched is the evolution of our hands. An international 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.
The research team wrote a statement in a press release saying that their findings show how “the structure of the modern human hand” is mostly primitive in its nature, and not the result of certain selective pressures encountered “in the context of stone tool-making”.
While most paleoanthropological studies rely heavily on the idea that our human ancestors infinitivally resembled monkeys, and slowly lost the more animalistic traits as they evolved time, the new study, led by Dr. Sergio Almécija, a paleoanthropologist over at Stony Brook University, suggests that may not necessarily be the case.
Dr. Almécija gave a statement informing that unlike most studies conducted in the field of human evolution, he and his team did not consider a chimpanzee-like creature to be the most common recent ancestor of both humans and chimpanzees.
He went on to add that they set out to test the widely accepted assumption by incorporating real morphological and phylogenetic data in a sizable sample of primate species.
What the researchers found was that the hands of ancient human resembled the hands of modern day humans a great deal, but the hands of ancient chimpanzees have evolved a great deal in the past six (6) million years and barely resemble the hands of modern day chimpanzees. The most notable change is that their fingers have gotten to be much longer.
Dr. Almécija also explained that orangutans share the same elongated fingers, and that theorized both species most likely made the change due to the specialized below the branch locomotion that can be observed in ape species with large bodies.
The main change in humans, on the other hand, is that we’ve changed hand proportions, specifically our thumbs have gotten to be longer than those seen on other primates. 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.
The study leader pointed out that the project could revolutionize the way that the way paleoanthropologists look at human evolution. One of the undeniable implications is that when our ancient ancestors first started to “stone tools in a systematic fashion”, roughly 3.3 million years ago, the proportion of their hands was very, very similar to that of modern day humans.
The team concluded that any study which starts from the premises that humans had chimpanzee-like ancestors, will most likely be flawed right from the start.
The study was published earlier this week, on Tuesday (July 14, 2015) in the journal Nature Communications.
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