Did Opposable Thumbs Make the Hominin?


How Dexterous Thumbs May Have Helped Shape Evolution Two Million Years Ago

by Brian Handwerk/Smithsonianmag.com

So much of modern-day life revolves around using opposable thumbs, from holding a hammer to build a home to ordering food delivery on our smartphones. But for our ancestors, the uses were much simpler. Strong and nimble thumbs meant that they could better create and wield tools, stones and bones for killing large animals for food. Because developing dexterous, opposable thumbs pushed our ancestors to make and use tools, eat more meat and grow bigger brains, scientists have long wondered if such thumbs began only with our own genus, Homo, or among some earlier species.

Now a new study combines the ancient evidence of fossil fingers and thumbs with cutting-edge computer muscle modeling to conclude that South African hominins boasted flexible, capable thumbs much like ours as far back as two million years ago. “It is remarkable that such a level of thumb dexterity, similar to that of people living today, would be observed in hominins alive two million years ago,” says Katerina Harvati, a paleoanthropologist at the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment, University of Tübingen (Germany).

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Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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