Humans are believed to be the most evolved species on the planet, but a recent study has concluded that humans actually have quite primitive hands compared to the hands of the chimpanzee, our closest cousin on the evolutionary tree.
Challenging Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
In what is being considered the best challenge to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, scientists from the United States and Spain have declared that humans might just have more primitive hands than chimpanzees. Their research found that human hands are still very similar to the hands of the last ancestor shared by humans and chimpanzees, which goes back as far as 6 million years.
On the contrary, chimpanzees have evolved and no longer have the same primitive hands that humans possess today, suggesting that humans hands are much more primitive than previously thought and did not develop through the selective processes of evolution and the development of stone tool making.
The Primitive Hands of Humans
George Washington University’s Sergio Almécija, along with several colleagues from New York’s Stony Brook University, conducted research on the proportion of the thumb to the other fingers in humans and apes. They measured living and fossilized hands of humans and apes, including early human relatives such as the Ardipithecus Ramidus (which was alive 4.4 million years ago and possessed hands quite similar to modern-day human hands, lending credence to the notion that humans have primitive hands).
What they found was that while humans maintained a very similar hand structure to the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, chimps began to develop different hands after they split off from that common ancestor. Their hands began to develop longer fingers in comparison to their thumbs, and it is thought that this was to accommodate the amount of time they spent hanging from trees.
Flawed From the Beginning?
Almécija, whose research was published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday morning, stated that human evolution scenarios relying heavily on a common ancestor that is more chimp-like could be flawed to begin with. He said that even though modern chimpanzees might paint a picture of how hands evolved over time, the same does not necessarily apply to the entire animal. Humans might have primitive hands, but that does not necessarily mean that humans are not more evolved than our closest living relative.