On the Other Hand

Another impressive effort by paleontologists, this time figuring out that some 2 million year old fossils belonged to a right handed member of homo habilis. This vast preference for right handedness is something only seen in humans, not even any of our primate relatives share this trait. In all other animals, preference for either hand is found to be about equal in the population. This is the first research showing such a preference in such an early specimen, and so even though its a sample size of one, the researchers are suspicious that the preference had already begun. Previously it was estimated that this preference for right handedness started around 430 thousand years ago around the time of the Neanderthals. 

Due tothe fact that only humans exhibit this disparity, we’ve often associated it as a complication of the superior development of the left hemisphere of our brain due to the advancement of the language centers in our brains. This finding would then suggest our ancestors may have been more advanced linguistically than previously thought. The researchers mention they are not suggesting this proves the homo habilis had language. Since it appears to have started so early in the evolutionary split, part of me wonders if this just happens to be a quirk picked up by our ancestors and actually isn’t integral in anyway to the development of our brains.