Researchers presented earlier today new evidence that neanderthals were more competitive & promiscuous than we are today! Maybe more surprizing is the method which the researchers used to acquire their new findings: via finger length measurements!

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, draws upon a famous and controversial indicator of social behavior: the comparative length of the index finger and the ring finger, also known as the 2D:4D finger ratio. If the ring finger is longer than the index finger, that’s supposed to be correlated with higher prenatal exposure to androgens — resulting in a higher proclivity for aggressiveness and promiscuity.

Scientists, in collaboration with researchers at the universities of Southampton and Calgary, used finger ratios from fossilised skeletal remains of early apes and extinct hominins, as indicators of the levels of exposure species had to prenatal androgens – a group of hormones that is important in the development of masculine characteristics such as aggression and promiscuity.

It is thought that androgens, such as testosterone, affect finger length during development in the womb. High levels of the hormones increase the length of the fourth finger in comparison to the second finger, resulting in a low index to ring finger ratio (2D:4D digit ratio). Researchers analysed the fossil finger bone ratios of Neanderthals and early apes, as well as hominins, Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus afarensis, to further understanding of their social behaviour.

The hand bones of an early hominid - fosile presented by Wesley Niewhoener.

The hand bones of an early hominid

 

The rigth hand of 'Neanderthal Qafzeh 9'.

The hand bones of a neanderthal

 

The team found that the fossil finger ratios of Neanderthals, and early members of the human species, were lower than most living humans, which suggests that they had been exposed to high levels of prenatal androgens. This indicates that early humans were likely to be more competitive and promiscuous than people today.

The results also suggest that early hominin, Australopithecus – dating from approximately three to four million years ago – was likely to be monogamous, whereas the earlier Ardipithecus appears to have been highly promiscuous and more similar to living great apes. The research suggests that more fossils are needed to fully understand the social behaviour of these two groups.

Dr Susanne Shultz, from the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford describes:

“Social behaviours are notoriously difficult to identify in the fossil record. Developing novel approaches, such as finger ratios, can help inform the current debate surrounding the social systems of the earliest human ancestors.”

And Dr Emma Nelson, an archaeologist from the University of Liverpool, argues that comparing the finger-length ratios of extinct and present-day species is a valid technique for making an indirect assessment of our long-gone ancestors’ social behavior. She said:

“It is believed that prenatal androgens (male sex hormones) affect the genes responsible for the development of the fingers, toes and the reproductive system. We have recently shown that promiscuous primate species have low index to ring finger ratios, while monogamous species have high ratios.”

“We used this information to estimate the social behaviour of extinct apes and hominins. Although the fossil record is limited for this period, and more fossils are needed to confirm our findings, this method could prove to be an exciting new way of understanding how our social behaviour has evolved.

READ MORE ABOUT EARLIER RESULTS:
• Primate finger length linked with social behavior
• Human finger length & sexual orientation
• Evolution of the human hand & palmar creases

You think your youngsters have the potential to be a certain something or achieve a certain thing?  Forget it. It has less and less to do with how hard you push them. Or with how long hours they practice. Or what breaks they get. Their success will have more to do with … their hands, DNA & belly button!

Researchers at Duke University checked out a hundred years of sprint records. They found that where a runner’s belly button is located determines how fast he or she will be able to run. That location tells them whether they have long or short torsos. The length of the torso is related to the length of the legs. And that, of course, determines their potential speed. 

This is why so many great sprinters are of West African origin. They have, on average, shorter torsos (higher belly buttons) and longer legs than runners of European origin.

If you are of European origin, take heart when it comes to swimming. Europeans’ longer torsos and shorter legs helps them swim faster.

My advice is that if you are white, and chased by a black, head for the water. And if you are black, chased by a white, run clear of the river.

Hold the presses. Jessica Bennett writes in Newsweek that handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts. Good-looking women, 4 percent more. Pretty people get more attention from teachers, bosses and mentors.

She says a majority of hiring managers say qualified but unattractive candidates have a harder time landing a job.

Various researchers claim your handedness – left or right – will get you into all sorts of fixes. Or get you out of them. They say mathematicians, musicians, architects and artists are more commonly left-handed. While only 10 percent of us are left-handed, 20 percent of the top performers in SAT tests are left-handed.

Meanwhile, if you are right-handed, you are more likely to develop arthritis. Sorry about that.

Next, we look at finger length. We compare the length of one to another. Researchers claim these lengths and ratios may determine if we are gay or straight. Or ambi-sexual.

Finger length may also predict our musical ability, say the researchers. Also our athletic ability.

Some reckon it predicts what speed we will be able to run at. (Stick that long finger in your high belly button and nobody will catch you.) They also believe our aggressiveness or passiveness is related to finger length. As well as our level of motivation. And our results on SAT tests. So is the likelihood of osteoarthritis and certain cancers.

Already parents-to-be are choosing the sex of their offspring. Imagine if docs ever offer them the chance to choose these other attributes. “We’d like a handsome boy with chops on the piano and top SAT’s. Straight, please. And make sure he can fix our cars. And support himself. And …”

And we have barely scratched the surface when it comes to predicting destiny fromour DNA. Nonetheless, it is already a brave new world.

A report by Tom Morgan.

SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER READING:

 Handedness & the hand-brain connection! 
 Finger length & athletic ability! 
 Finger length & musical ability!
Finger length & aggression!

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