The marks of Stone Age peoples, which became extinct about 40,000 years ago, were much changier than ours. What’s more, a Neanderthal’s thumb would have clung to his hand at a much wider angle.
“If you were to join a Neanderthal hand, you would notice the difference,” said Emeline Bardo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation in the United Kingdom.
“There will be confusion over where to place the thumb, and for the fight of the thumb I think you will win in terms of speed and movement!” He said via email.
Neanderthals used their hands differently from us, in a new study published in Scientific Reports on Thursday Has suggested Our archaic relatives, the lead study author Bardo said, would be more comfortable with “squeeze grips” – the grip we use when we hold tools with a hammer-like handle.
To learn how Neanderthal used his hands, what Bardo and his colleagues said was a unique approach.
Other studies have determined how the shape of the thumb bones differ in Neanderthal and modern humans, as well as other fossil human relatives. However, most of the research has been done till date. Saw bones in isolation — till now.
Analysis of joint movement
Researchers used 3D mapping to analyze the joints between bones responsible for the motion of the thumb – known as the “trapeziometacarpal complex” – as the remains of five Neanderthal individuals. The scientists then compared the results to measurements taken from the remains of five early modern humans and 50 recent modern adults.
“Our study is novel in looking at how variations in the shape and inclination of different bones and joints are completely related to each,” she said.
“Movement and loading is only possible by these bones, as well as ligaments and muscles, working together so that they need to be studied together,” she said.
Although his flesh hands probably suggest a lack of dexterity, Neanderthals were certainly able to use a precise grip – like we would hold a pencil, Bardo said.
“He said the base of the Neanderthal fossil’s thumb is flatter with a smaller contact surface between the joint bones, which is better suited to an extended thumb located next to the arm,” she explained. “This thumb posture shows that regular use of power catches the ‘squeeze’.”
In contrast, the human thumb has a joint surface that is generally larger and more curved, “which is an advantage when holding objects between the finger and thumb pads, a precise grip,” she said.
The powerful squeeze grip would have helped the Neanderthals to spear while hunting and used stone scrapers or knives to work the wood or animal skins. It can be hard for Homo neanderthalensis, however, to use a strong precision grip to use stone flakes between the finger and thumb pads to cut the flesh, Bardo said.
However, she said that there is a huge difference between modern humans, when it comes to mastery – and may even exist among Neanderthals.
“His hand anatomy and archaeological record make it clear that Neanderthals were very intelligent, sophisticated device users and used the same tools that modern-day humans did,” Bardo said.