Nimble human fingers evolved to smash animal bones in search for marrow

hands

Scientists have long linked the evolution of the human hand—unique for its lengthy opposable thumbs and dexterous fingers—to the rise of stone tools some 2.6 million years ago.

Early hominins practiced an array of tool-related activities, including hunting, foraging and cooking. But according to a new study from researchers at Chatham University and the University of Kent, not all of these activities were created equal. The team’s findings, newly published in the Journal of Human Evolution, suggest that a specific behavior—smashing animal bones to access their marrow—had an outsized effect on the development of early hand anatomy.

Bone marrow is a tasty, high-energy food. Early humans who had hands more suited to smashing open bones and acquiring the delicious snack might have been better equipped to survive in the harsh conditions of prehistory, and thus more likely to pass their genes—and dextrous hands—on to the next generation. To test that hypothesis, the team asked 39 volunteers to don a manual pressure sensor system called Pliance and demonstrate a bevy of Pleistocene-era activities.

Related article:  Discovery of microbes under ocean floor suggests life could thrive in ‘extreme environments’ like Mars

[R]esearchers found that the thumb, index and middle fingers always played a role of high importance. Behaviors requiring the most pressure were hammering bones for marrow.

[T]he newfound emphasis on rich, high caloric-marrow draws attention to the variety of practices that contributed to today’s nimble fingers.

Read full, original post: Did the Human Hand Evolve as a Lean Mean Bone-Smashing Machine?

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

Video: Test everyone – Slovakia goes its own way to control COVID

As Europe sees record coronavirus cases and deaths, Slovakia is testing its entire adult population. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw explains how ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend