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The unexpected importance of the fifth digit during stone tool production

Key, Alastair J. M., Dunmore, Christopher J., Marzke, Mary (2019) The unexpected importance of the fifth digit during stone tool production. Scientific Reports, 9 . Article Number 1653. ISSN 2045-2322. (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53332-w) (KAR id:78652)

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Unique anatomical features of the human hand facilitate our ability to proficiently and forcefully perform precision grips and in-hand manipulation of objects. Extensive research has been conducted into the role of digits one to three during these manual behaviours, and the origin of the highly derived first digit anatomy that facilitates these capabilities. Stone tool production has long been thought a key influence in this regard. Despite previous research stressing the unique derived morphology of the human fifth digit little work has investigated why humans alone display these features. Here we examine the recruitment frequency, loading magnitude, and loading distribution of all digits on the non-dominant hand of skilled flintknappers during four technologically distinct types of Lower Palaeolithic stone tool production. Our data reveal the fifth digit to be heavily and frequently recruited during all studied behaviours. It occasionally incurred pressures, and was used in frequencies, greater or equal to those of the thumb, and frequently the same or greater than those of the index finger. The fifth digit therefore appears key to >2 million years of stone tool production activities, a behaviour that likely contributed to the derived anatomy observed in the modern human fifth ray.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41598-019-53332-w
Uncontrolled keywords: Biological Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Alastair Key
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 10:54 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Key, Alastair J. M.:
Dunmore, Christopher J.:
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