David Carrier, a biology professor from Utah University, has just published a paper, regarding the evolution of the human hand, which stirred up the scientific community. Experiment on cadaver proves that human fist evolved from fighting rather than from making and using tools.
In order to test out his theory, Carrier managed to set up a peculiar experiment involving several severed hands from cadavers and a lot of scientific equipment that look as if they came out of Frankenstein’ laboratory. Basically, he wants to demonstrate that the image of the fist does not only hold an iconological interest, but it is a remarkable evolutionary process as well.
Carrier acknowledges that although many anthropologists proved that our hand evolved for manual dexterity, which is only one part of the equation. He goes even further and says that the actual morphology of our hand bones has evolved over time because of fistfights occurring in prehistoric times between males over their dominance.
Many voices from the scientific community came to refute Carrier’ findings, proclaiming that his findings are not based on any evidence at all. Brigitte Demes, professor at Stony Brook University says that Carrier’ findings didn’t prove anything, but they rather shiny facts that suited Carrier’ theory. The same researcher explains that there are a lot more theories out there that can easily explain the morphology of the human arms and bones.
But David Carrier is not one easily discouraged by critics. He pointed out that there is an unknown fear out there, looming above us, that man could be anatomically built for fighting.
As gruesome as Carrier experiment may be, he did manage to uncover some very interesting data. By using several severed hands from different cadavers, Carrier went on to measure the force that the internal structure of the bone can absorb before they break.
So, he diligently arranged the arms on a table and clenched the fists in different stances. He then tied all the tendons with a fishing line which he then connected to a series of guitar tuners. He would use these instruments in order to arrange or rearrange the position of the arm. Basically, he would use the arms in order to strike a dumbbell equipped with an accelerometer. By measuring the force of each strike he could made the following statement: humans can safely strike with 55 percent more force using a closed fist than with an open one.
Punching with a closed fist doubles the force of the hit before the bones begin to break.
Carrier’ findings, although still vague and rather theoretical, can prove to be invaluable in our search of discovering how human kind evolved.
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