The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Skeletal evidence for handedness throughout growth and development


Anthropology, University of Manitoba

Thursday 2:30-2:45, Grand Ballroom II Add to calendar

By using bilateral asymmetry of the humerus as a proxy for handedness, it is possible to gain insight into the development of this trait during growth. A large skeletal sample of non-adults from several archaeological sites in England, was examined using traditional metric techniques to assess when right-sided asymmetry can be detected in the human skeleton. Results of this work indicate a change in directional asymmetry during growth and development, with infants and young children exhibiting no significant asymmetry and older children and adolescents demonstrating right-sidedness, which is similar to what has been observed behaviorally in living children. From a biomechanical perspective, what would be expected if there was no hand preference or if that preference continually shifted back and forth during infancy and early childhood. The degree of asymmetry in different features of the humerus was also found to exhibit variability. Genetic canalization can be used to explain this feature, with the current work supporting the conclusion that length and articular dimensions of the humerus are more strongly canalized than diaphyseal properties.

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