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December 20 2012

Human hands evolved so we could punch each other


Forget toolmaking, think fisticuffs. Did evolution shape our hands not for dexterity but to form fists so we could punch other people? That idea emerges from a new study, although it runs counter to conventional wisdom.

About the same time as we stopped hanging from trees and started walking upright, our hands become short and square, with opposable thumbs. These anatomical changes are thought to have evolved for tool manipulation, but David Carrier at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City has an alternative explanation.

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