Neanderthals used their thumbs differently
By T.K. Randall
November 29, 2020 · 2 comments
Neanderthals had quite the grip. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Neanderthal-Museum, Mettmann
A new study has revealed that Neanderthals had thumbs that were much better suited for power gripping.
For all their differences, the Neanderthals - which lived alongside and bred with modern humans before disappearing around 40,000 years ago - were remarkably similar to ourselves.
There were, however, some physical differences, one of which being their thumbs.
New research involving a detailed analysis of Neanderthal hand bone fossils has shown that they had thumbs much better suited to power gripping than to precision gripping, meaning that while they may have struggled to pick up a coin with their forefinger and thumb, they would have had no problem maintaining a tight grip on a tool such as a hammer.
"If you were to shake a Neanderthal hand you would notice this difference," Ameline Bardo - a postdoctoral research associate from the University of Kent - told Gizmodo
"There would be confusion over where to place the thumb, and for a thumb fight I think you would win in terms of speed and movement."
Of course the Neanderthals didn't actually have hammers with handles as we have today, however they did use various forms of primitive stone tools, just like our modern human ancestors.
"Hand anatomy and the archaeological record makes abundantly clear that Neanderthals were very intelligent, sophisticated tool users and used many of the same tools that contemporary modern humans did," said Bardo.
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