Send to

Choose Destination
Laterality. 2012;17(1):51-69. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2010.529451. Epub 2011 Apr 14.

More than 500,000 years of right-handedness in Europe.

Author information

a Department of Anthropology , University of Kansas , Lawrence , KS , USA.


Considerable research supports the high frequency of right-handedness in living Homo sapiens, with worldwide rates of approximately nine right- for every one left-hander. Right-handedness appears to be a uniquely human trait, as no other primate species, no matter how proficient in tool use, shows frequencies even close to the strong right bias typical of humans (Cashmore, Uomini, & Chapelain, 2008; McGrew & Marchant 1997; Steele & Uomini, 2009). Here we review our research on human fossils from Sima de los Huesos (Atapuerca, Spain) and their likely descendants, the European Neandertals. We document hand preference in fossils by scratch patterns that occur on the labial (lip) face of incisors and canines, and contend that these patterns provide a reliable means for identifying predominant hand use in these samples. Manipulatory marks on the anterior teeth show a persistent pattern of right-handed actions, implying that the modern human pattern of dominant right-handedness extends deep into the European past.


Atapuerca; Language; Lateralisation; Neandertals; Tooth scratches

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center