Hand Precision Grip

Neanderthals had precision hands, according to Science (AAAS) News 26 September 2018 and Science Advances 26 September 2018, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat2369.

Human hands are made for gripping and manipulating objects.  There are two basic ways of gripping objects depending on whether the task involves fine precise movements, such as writing, painting or sewing, or brute force, such as hammering or chopping.  These two grips require different patterns of muscle contraction, which after many years of habitual use will leave marks called entheses on places where the muscles attach to the bones.  This means it is possible from the pattern of entheses on a skeleton to tell whether a person in life did mainly precision work or brute force work.  Brute force workers have more prominent entheses on the thumb and little finger, whereas precision workers have more prominent entheses on the thumb and index finger.  This was confirmed by scientists in 2009 who scanned the hands of living bricklayers, butchers, tailors, and painters.

Now a team of researchers has scanned the bones of six Neanderthals and six fossils of “ancient humans” dated as being 40,000 years old.  They found all the Neanderthals had the precision grip pattern, in spite of their robust bones, whilst only half the ancient humans had the precision grip pattern.

The researchers commented: “Our findings challenge the established interpretation of Neanderthal behaviour and establish a solid link between biological and cultural remains in the fossil record.”


Editorial Comment:  We note this is a very small sample size yet this is a useful study as it again confirms a long line of studies showing Neanderthals were fully human, and there is nothing primitive about them, biologically or culturally.  It is widely known they had larger brains than our modern human average, so it is no surprise to us that their hands show signs of such sophisticated activities as sewing and painting, which require plan, purpose, imagination and creativity.  This is also confirmed by the finding of remains of artefacts, clothing and processed pigments in Neanderthal archaeological sites.

We note that the German museum where the original Neanderthal bones were found now exhibit models of Neanderthals as fully human people, dressed and engaged in making that require skilled craftmanship involving precision hand grip.  We challenge other museums, including the British Natural History Museum, to do the same, and to stop using Neanderthals to prop up the theory of humans evolving from some brutish ape-like creature.

Finally, in order to overcome the white collar prejudice of the researchers, and for the sake of all the manual labourers amongst our readers, note well: there is nothing primitive or unskilled about many tasks that require predominately “brute force” grips (usually referred to as “power grip” by human biologists) such as building, woodwork and metalwork.

Evidence News vol. 18 No. 15
31 October 2018
Creation Research Australia

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