29 October 2010

Chimps and humans both opt for right hand

Agence France-Presse
Humans are not the only species to prefer to use their right hand - chimpanzees also share the trait, according to a new study by Spanish scientists.
chimpanzee tool use

A female chimpanzee uses a stick to fish for treats in the artificial termite mound at the Lincoln Park Zoo. A recent study has found that chimpanzees, especially females, prefer to use their right hand, sharing this trait with humans. Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

MADRID: Humans are not the only species to prefer to use their right hand – chimpanzees also share the trait, according to a new study by Spanish scientists.

The researchers reached their findings, published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Primatology, after observing 114 chimpanzees from two primate rescue centres, one in Spain and the other in Zambia.

The primates were provided with food hidden inside tubes and the scientists monitored them to see which hand they used to get at it, either their fingers or with the help of tools.

Female chimps more likely right-handed

“The chimpanzees showed a preferential use of the right hand to get the food from the tube,” the Catalan Institute of Human Palaeoecology and Social Evolution, which coordinated the study, said.

“This feature had traditionally been considered exclusively human and had been believed to be caused by asymmetries observed in the human brain that are related to the realisation of complicated activities that require the use and coordination of both hands.”

The study also found that female chimpanzees, like their human counterparts, are more likely to be right-handed than males.

The researchers said this suggests “that just like in our species, there are shared biological factors, genetic and hormonal, that modulate the functioning of our brain.”

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