Structured bimanual actions and hand transfers reveal population-level right-handedness in captive gorillas

Tabiowo, E. and Forrester, G.S. 2013. Structured bimanual actions and hand transfers reveal population-level right-handedness in captive gorillas. Animal Behaviour. 86 (5), pp. 1049-1057. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.09.010

TitleStructured bimanual actions and hand transfers reveal population-level right-handedness in captive gorillas
AuthorsTabiowo, E. and Forrester, G.S.
Abstract

There is a common prevailing perception that humans possess a species-unique population-level right-hand bias that has evolutionary links with language. New theories suggest that an early evolutionary division of cognitive function gave rise to a left-hemisphere bias for behaviours underpinned by structured sequences of actions. However, studies of great ape handedness have generated inconsistent results and considerable debate. Additionally, the literature places a heavy focus on chimpanzees, revealing a paucity of handedness findings from other great ape species, and thus limiting the empirical evidence with which we can evaluate evolutionary theory. We observed handedness during spontaneous naturalistic bimanual actions in a captive, biological group of 13 western lowland gorillas, Gorilla gorilla gorilla. Our results demonstrated a significant group-level right-handed bias for bimanual actions as well as for a novel measure of handedness: hand transfer. The two measures revealed similar patterns of handedness, such that a right-hand bias for the majority of individuals was found across both measures. Our findings suggest that human population-level right-handedness is a behavioural trait linked with left-hemisphere dominance for the processing of structured sequences of actions, and was inherited by a common ancestor of both humans and apes.

JournalAnimal Behaviour
Journal citation86 (5), pp. 1049-1057
ISSN0003-3472
YearNov 2013
PublisherElsevier
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.09.010
Publication dates
PublishedNov 2013

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