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Friday, January 23, 2015
Maybe Early Humans Weren't The First To Get A Good Grip
An example of a human precision grip — grasping a first metacarpal from the thumb of a specimen of Australopithecus africanus that's thought to be 2 to 3 million years old.
The special tool-wielding power of human hands may go back further in evolutionary history than scientists have thought.
That's according to a new study of hand bones from an early relative of humans calledAustralopithecus africanus. Researchers used a powerful X-ray technique to scan the interior of the bones, and they detected a telltale structure that's associated with a forceful precision grip.
"It's clear evidence that these australopiths were using their hands and using grips that are very consistent with what modern humans did and what our recent relatives like Neanderthals did," says Matthew Skinner, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Kent, in the United Kingdom. He was part of the team that published the new work online Thursday in Science.