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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 04:40 PM

Io9: Did fist fighting change the course of human evolution?


http://io9.com/5970186/did-fist-fighting-change-the-course-of-human-evolution

The human hand is a beautiful product of evolution. A finely crafted arrangement of 27 bones, our hands are among the most dexterous in the animal kingdom, and are every bit as capable of threading a needle as they are grasping the oar of a canoe. But newly published findings suggest our palms and fingers may have evolved into their present shapes for more brutish purposes namely beating the living crap out of one another.

<snippage>

Our capacity for manual manipulation is a large part of what makes us human, and is thought to have played an important role in the evolution of the hand itself. But in the latest issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers Michael Morgan and David Carrier suggest another driving force in the evolutionary history of the hand-shape we know today: the ability for our ancestors and males, specifically to hold their own during hand-to-hand combat.

Full sizeThe same hand-proportions that allow us to dominate at Jenga and grip a bat also allow us to make a closed fist. Unlike a chimpanzee, whose long fingers and and stout thumb form a loose, open doughnut-shape when curled, a human is capable of instantly transforming his arm and hand into what amounts to a knobby-ended cudgel. Which would you rather have at your disposal during a violent encounter: a knobby-ended cudgel, or a stick with a donut on the end of it? (The image featured here compares the anatomy of a chimp hand with that of a human.)


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Reply Io9: Did fist fighting change the course of human evolution? (Original post)
Bucky Dec 2012 OP
Common Sense Party Dec 2012 #1
GeorgeGist Dec 2012 #2
Bucky Dec 2012 #3
bemildred Dec 2012 #4

Response to Bucky (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 04:43 PM

1. Except that hitting someone with your fist is often a very stupid thing to do.

Your hand is made up of a bunch of little, rather fragile bones.

The human skull is incredibly strong and solid.

Fist vs. skull loses more often than not.

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Response to Bucky (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 04:44 PM

2. Lamarckism

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Response to GeorgeGist (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 05:54 PM

3. The article was clearly *not* making that argument.

The simplified explanations in articles written for the general public can often leave that impression, I admit. But I think it's clear from the reading that the scientific article the Io9.com article was referencing was a peer-reviewed journal that would (presumedly) avoid a discredited theory from over half a century ago. To wit, the guys with the fists best suited to punchin' were more likely to pass along their genes--heh heh, if you know what I mean--than those with the long monkey fingers.

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Response to Bucky (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 07:31 PM

4. I will hazard the opinion that the ability to hold a club was a good deal more important

than the ability to make a fist, so much more direct if you see what I mean, though one may also note that the two capabilities coincide.

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