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Psychol Sci. 2005 Jun;16(6):487-93.

The distribution and development of handedness for manual gestures in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

Author information

1
Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. lrcbh@rmy.emory.edu

Abstract

This article describes the distribution and development of handedness for manual gestures in captive chimpanzees. Data on handedness for unimanual gestures were collected in a sample of 227 captive chimpanzees. Handedness for these gestures was compared with handedness for three other measures of hand use: tool use, reaching, and coordinated bimanual actions. Chimpanzees were significantly more right-handed for gestures than for all other measures of hand use. Hand use for simple reaching at 3 to 4 years of age predicted hand use for gestures 10 years later. Use of the right hand for gestures was significantly higher when gestures were accompanied by a vocalization than when they were not. The collective results suggest that left-hemisphere specialization for language may have evolved initially from asymmetries in manual gestures in the common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans, rather than from hand use associated with other, non-communicative motor actions, including tool use and coordinated bimanual actions, as has been previously suggested in the literature.

PMID:
15943676
PMCID:
PMC2043162
DOI:
10.1111/j.0956-7976.2005.01561.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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