Zhang Haiguo, an expert in dermatoglyphics, has earlier this month been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Prize for Anthropology by The Shanghai Anthropological Association. 

The 62-year-old native from Shanghai became e.g. known for collecting dermatoglyphic variables from China’s 56 ethnic groups in an attempt to trace their origins and migratory route over a period of 30 years. Zhang Haiguo’s team has collected more than 150 samples by surveying more than 68,000 Chinese from all 56 ethnic groups – his study became known as the world’s first research of dermatoglyphic variables involving all ethnic groups of a country.

Zhang Haiguo  has divided the ethnic groups into north and south groups. The research presents some surprising discoveries. For example, Tibetans’ origins could be traced from the very north of China, instead of India as popularly believed.

Zhang Gaoshan ethnic group, a community in Taiwan, was found to have originated from the Chinese mainland instead of from the islands of the South Pacific regions.

The professor says the research will also help in the study of some genetic diseases like Down’s syndrome. Based on his research, Zhang concludes that the disease will happen to one of every 690 Chinese people.

 Zhang says he is currently exploring a new research method, which combines generic and dermatoglyphic research in a bid to better decipher the origins of ethnic groups.

“Which section of DNA decides people’s fingerprints? It has been a dilemma for scientists around the world, and I hope my years of study can shed some light,” he says.

Palm Reading?

When asked about his opinion on telling one’s fortune through palm reading, he says:

“I have perhaps seen more palms than most fortune tellers. But I don’t think someone can tell others’ fortune through palms. Someone invited me to join fortune telling 20 years ago, but I refused.”

 Haiguo is currently a professor from the School of Life Sciences in Fudan University and a former associate professor from the department of medical genetics in Shanghai Jiaotong University’s School of Medicine. Zhang has published more than 70 articles and six books on dermatoglyphics. But his latest findings are compiled in a book, Dermatoglyphics of China’s 56 Ethnic Groups, which was published in July. His research data has also been published on PLoS ONE, an international peer-reviewed online publication of the US Public Library of Science.

Via: ChinaDaily.com

Stone tools influenced hand evolution in human ancestors.

KENT, MARCH 2011 –  New research from anthropologists at the University of Kent has confirmed Charles Darwin’s speculation that the evolution of unique features in the human hand was influenced by increased tool use in our ancestors.

Research over the last century has certainly confirmed the existence of a suite of features in the bones and musculature of the human hand and wrist associated with specific gripping and manipulatory capabilities that are different from those of other extant great apes. These features have fuelled suggestions that, at some point since humans split from the last common ancestor of living apes, the human hand evolved away from features adapted for locomotion toward alternative functions.

Now, researchers Dr Stephen Lycett and Alastair Key have shown that the hands of our ancestors may have been subject to natural selection as a result of using simple cutting tools. In a series of experiments that used stone flakes similar to those known from Africa around 2.6 million years ago, they analysed whether variation in the hand size of individual tool users reflects differences that affect the efficiency of these simple tools to cut through a rope.

Their results, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, show that ‘biometric’ variation did indeed result in a significant relationship with cutting efficiency in the experimental task.

Hands holding stones: dexterity of the wrist joints, of the hands and fingers, enabled early humans to create and use stone tools - which had an important rule in the evolution of human civilization.

Dr Lycett, Senior Lecturer in Human Evolution at the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation, explained: ‘140 years ago, writing from his home at Down House in Kent, Darwin proposed that the use of stone tools may have influenced the evolution of human hands.

‘Our research suggests that he was correct. From a very early stage in our evolution, the cultural behaviour of our ancestors was influencing biological evolution in specific ways.’

A 'family tree' of the major major lines.

In 2004 Chinese researchers present a new approach to study the hand lines for biometric purposes. They applied a mathematical model on hand prints and were able to identify six types of  palmar crease variations – based on the core characteristics of the three ‘major palmar lines’. Recently, in line with the Chinese research a new more advanced (PIC) model was introduced which e.g. describes 21 types of major hand line variations which are displayed in ‘a family tree of the major hand line types': see the picture above.

Interestingly, the new study reports e.g. about a correlation between the palmar lines and intelligence (IQ): left hand vs. right hand asymmetries appear to be involved, plus a lower prevalence of MPA’s – such as the simian line & Sydney line).

More details are available in the article:
What can formations in hand lines reveal?

For more information about various aspects of the palmar lines the following book is recommended:
‘Anthropology of Crease Morphogenesis’.

NOTICE: The three major palmar lines concern:

- The ‘radial longitudinal crease’, in palmistry a.k.a. the ‘life line';
– The ‘distal transversal crease’, in palmistry a.k.a. the ‘heart line';
– The ‘proximal transveral crease’, in palmistry a.k.a. the ‘head line’.

Related news reports & articles are available at:
News about the palmar creases / hand lines.