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Friday, July 22, 2005

Hands and Paws, and Paws and Hands

I just realised Teddy (my 7 1/2 year old puppy;)) was left-pawed. My parents apparently knew it for a long time, but I just noticed it. He pulls stuff with his left front paw, he pees to his left... (actually, that is about it, lol). And I thought wow, I need to find out if this is really true, and looked up on the net. Lo and behold, I had an answer in less than 2 mins. Yes, other animals can have a hand/paw bias. The figures weren't there to be quoted except for chimps and humans. Chimps have a more-or-less equal number of lefties and righties, while there is a huge bias in humans (85-90% righties) (Reference no. 3 for more).

Ambidextrousness was also seen - it was clearly the left/right-handed chimp with the advantage. With more use of a single hand, there is better control; hence, more food (insects) caught. The ambidextrous remain jacks-of-all-trades-good-at-none, so they get a smaller catch. That might explain why handedness is evolutionarily advantageous, but there is still some unresolved stuff about why humans have a huge right-hand bias.

A lot is covered in the Wikipedia article (Reference 2) - an excellent article. The most interesting aspect is this:

The researchers hypothesize that left-handed inheritance is likely to be associated with violence, because violent left-handed people would be more likely to benefit from the advantage in fighting. They found a positive correlation between murder rates and percentage of left-handed people in several traditional societies: The more left-handed people, the higher the homicide rate.

The researchers argue that left-handed people are not more violent than right-handed, but that violent left-handed people are more likely to be successful than violent right-handed people
(Reference 2)

One question is - why do lefties have an advantage in fight? And the answer provided is actually quite believable. Righties are more common, so a leftie gets a lot of practice in how to counter a rightie (we are talking about hands-on combat here) than the reverse. So, a leftie is more likely to succeed in a fight cos he's had more practice.

All this is very surprising because my mom always told me as a kid, that people with left-slanted writing or left-handed people often have criminal intentions. Maybe a house-wives tale, but I am willing to believe (now) that maybe it was the experience of centuries speaking.


Interesting Reads:
1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sex/articles/handedness.shtml
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-handed
3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/features/341feature3.shtml

4 Comments:

Blogger majanx said...

kshitij has a left slanted hand- writing.(actually, it'b an understatement calling his wrintng left-slanted; it goes like a side of a triangle).
does that mean he has criminal intentions...?

1:13 PM  
Blogger karthik durvasula said...

(In a whisper) Maybe, just maybe.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Radhika said...

Sheesh..don't say such horrid things about ambidextrous people..:-P I don't think it's true :-) [But maybe...when I think about it..:'(]
BTW..in handwriting analysis the left slant means people who hold back their feelings, intentions who are not open etc etc..(which indirectly might lead to crimincal tendency) and the right hand slant denotes highly emotional people.

6:33 PM  
Blogger majanx said...

'my 7 1/2 year old puppy' ?!!! what is that supposed to mean? it's like saying 'that 80 yr. old boy'.

hold back feelings! not open intentions?! that too kshitij! NEVER!
I find his openness reasons for his crimal intentions.

3:53 AM  

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