New Research Shows Neanderthals May Not Have Used Their Thumbs Like Humans

A new study has found that shaking hands with Neanderthals might have been a different experience as their thumbs have been better suited for power grip. Such a build of thumbs is not found in modern humans. Modern humans have thumbs suited for precision grip. This clearly shows that Neanderthals may have used their hands differently than humans. The Stone Age people have gone extinct around 40000 years ago. As per the study, the thumbs of Neanderthals would have fallen out of their hands at a much wider angle. The findings of this study have been released in the journal Scientific Reports. This study aims to determine behavioral differences between Neanderthals and humans. Experts have said that Neanderthals had existed in the modern era; they would have stood out in a crowd.

The Stone Age people were shorter and a little chunkier than modern era humans. They had a broad nose and larger nostrils. They developed weaker chins and major brow ridges. Their hands as well were bigger as compared to contemporary humans. The study pointed out that Neanderthals had thumbs, which were better suited for squeeze grip like holding a hammer and bringing it down. In those times, hammers did not have a handle; in that case, such thumbs with better power grips would have been much useful in carving out stone tools. The study has shown that it would have been difficult for Neanderthals to hold a hammer between fingers and thumb with precision grip due to the structure of their thumbs. As per a different study, Neanderthals used to apply precision grip while doing manual tasks. However, the new study said that the precision grip was not very easy for the Stone Age people.

The authors of the research have told that hand composition and archaeological findings show that Neanderthals might have been very intelligent and refined tool users. They utilized almost the same tools that modern humans did. Experts studied how hand bones of Neanderthals evolved through time and space. They used 3D mapping to identify that the joints between the bones were essential for thumbs movements. Scientists specifically observed the trapeziometacarpal complex. They as well examined the trapezium (the wrist bone at the base of the thumb) and the proximal end of the metacarpal, which is the primary bone in the thumb, which attaches at the wrist. At the end of the study, they saw how the shape or position of one bone affected the formation or location of the other bone. Experts studied the fossilized remains of five Neanderthal people. These samples were compared to five modern humans and fifty recent modern humans. Experts found that the joint at the base of Neanderthals’ thumbs were flatter than modern humans, which was apt of long thumbs located alongside the surface of the hands.