Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Southpaw Grammar

Okay, so I have a slight obsession with handedness ever since I had to learn to be left-handed for a few months after an army accident left my right hand broken (still use my chopsticks and mouse left-handed), but this article noting that most wild chimps are left-handed caught my eye:
Richard W. Byrne of the University of St. Andrews in Fife, United Kingdom, who has reported on hand-preference in mountain gorillas doing complex tasks, said: "It now looks as if whatever gives a population skew to manually skilled behavior has its roots deep in the shared ancestry of humans and all other African great apes."
Although of course, the article does also point out that the extent of handedness is overstated in people:
Among humans, a right-handed preference has been estimated for about 90 percent of the population. But Byrne noted that the figure "depends on asking people which hand they write with, and in studies of nonliterate people's behavior, much lower figures (for right-handedness) are found."
I wonder whether that means in an entire population, handedness is distributed more evenly than 90-10, or that means that in individuals people are not so definitively right- or left-handed...



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