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29 July 2012
Neanderthals' dominant right arm caused by scraping

Colin Shaw of the University of Cambridge (UK): "The skeletal remains of Neanderthals suggests that they were doing something intense or repetitive, or both, that significantly impacted their lives. While hunting was important to Neanderthals, our research suggests that much of their time was spent performing other tasks, such as preparing the skins of large animals. If we are right, it changes our picture of the daily activities of Neanderthals."
     Researchers led by Shaw took muscle measurements of modern men performing different spear thrusting and scraping tasks. They found that muscle activity was significantly higher on the left side of the body for spear thrusting tasks.
     When the study participants performed scraping tasks, however, the activity was much higher on their right side, suggesting that scraping behaviour may be the actual source of the asymmetrical arm shape in Neanderthals.

Edited from Popular Archaeology (18 July 2012)

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