Human species is believed to be on the top of the evolutionary pyramid, as we are the only creatures designed with conscience, which offers us the privilege of rationality. Our design for life enabled us to create structures aimed at making us adapt to the surroundings and improve the world we are living in. Ultimately, human conscience has reached a high point in evolution but a tricky one as well: we tend to think that everything about us is way more advanced compared to all the other creatures in the world.
Well, nature is here only to prove us wrong, as a recent study revealed that our hands are more primitive compared to the hands of our chimp ancestors. We have extremely strong fists that help us defend ourselves and opposable thumbs for delicate and detailed work. Hand specialization is thought to have offered humans a considerable evolutionary advantage. However, it is in our minds that we create everything we turn into matter, as our very physical hands are not that evolved.
A team of scientists from US and Spain has been observing, comparing and contrasting the structure of the human hand and they have concluded that our hand structure is not as complex and as evolved as our chimp’s ancestor hand.
Human hands are more similar to those of the last common ancestor we shared together with chimps, millions of years back. The structure of the human hand is thus highly primitive in its basic structure “rather than the result of selective pressures in the context of tool making”, according to a press summary extracted from journal Nature Communications.
Instead, hands of chimps and orangutans have changed dramatically over time, ever since they split off to form new extensions of the hominid family tree. They have managed to develop longer fingers, compared to the human thumb, in order to be able to swing on tree branches.
Although the human hand is a wonder of dexterity, as we have developed capacities to create sophisticated melodies from the keys of a piano, carve complex shapes in hard structures such as stone, delicately draw forms that imitate life and thread a needle, nature hasn’t been offering us much complexity when it comes to the basic bone structure of our hand. Most particularities of our hands are anatomically primitive.
Humans have a very long thumb and shorter fingers which allow us to touch our thumbs to any point along our fingers and easily grasp objects. In contrast, chimps have extremely long fingers and shorter thumbs, perfectly designed to help them swing in trees. However, chimps are much less capable when it comes to precision grasping. Scientists have speculated that common ancestor of chimps and humans had chimplike hands, while the human hand changed as a response to the pressures of natural selection, making us better toolmakers. The primitive hands of human beings may be less evolved compared to other species, but are highly specialized in areas that are unique and bound to ceaseless evolution.
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