The degree to which non-human primate behavior is lateralized, at either individual or population levels, remains controversial. We investigated the relationship between hand preference and posture during tool use in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) during bipedal tool use. We experimentally induced tool use in a supported bipedal posture, an unsupported bipedal posture, and a seated posture. Neither bipedal tool use nor these supported conditions have been previously evaluated in apes. The hypotheses tested were 1) bipedal posture will increase the strength of hand preference, and 2) a bipedal stance, without the use of one hand for support, will elicit a right hand preference. Results supported the first, but not the second hypothesis: bipedalism induced the subjects to become more lateralized, but not in any particular direction. Instead, it appears that subtle pre-existing lateral biases, to either the right or left, were emphasized with increasing postural demands. This result has interesting implications for theories of the evolution of tool use and bipedalism, as the combination of bipedalism and tool use may have helped drive extreme lateralization in modern humans, but cannot alone account for the preponderance of right-handedness.
Journal of Human Evolution, 2010, Vol 58, Issue 3, p. 234-41
Animals; Female; Functional Laterality; Male; Pan troglodytes; Posture; Tool Use Behavior