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The implications of thumb movements for Neanderthal and modern human manipulation

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Kivell,  Tracy L.
Department of Human Evolution, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Bardo_The-implications_SciRep_2020.pdf
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Citation

Bardo, A., Moncel, M.-H., Dunmore, C. J., Kivell, T. L., Pouydebat, E., & Cornette, R. (2020). The implications of thumb movements for Neanderthal and modern human manipulation. Scientific Reports, 10: 19323. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-75694-2.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A185-C
Abstract
Much research has debated the technological abilities of Neanderthals relative to those of early modern humans, with a particular focus on subtle differences in thumb morphology and how this may reflect differences in manipulative behaviors in these two species. Here, we provide a novel perspective on this debate through a 3D geometric morphometric analysis of shape covariation between the trapezial and proximal first metacarpal articular surfaces of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) in comparison to early and recent humans (Homo sapiens). Results show a distinct pattern of shape covariation in Neanderthals, consistent with more extended and adducted thumb postures that may reflect habitual use of grips commonly used for hafted tools. Both Neanderthals and recent humans demonstrate high intraspecific variation in shape covariation. This intraspecific variation is likely the result of genetic and/or developmental differences, but may also reflect, in part, differing functional requirements imposed by the use of varied tool-kits. These results underscore the importance of holistic joint shape analysis for understanding the functional capabilities and evolution of the modern human thumb.