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Thread subject: Handedness in animals - slightly off-topic
Name Date Message
Shelley 07/05/05 04:27 pm If you can stand a slight tangent, I found the post I was looking for earlier. I posted this in August of 2003 on a wildife watching website board I was a member of at the time:





I thought I'd share this with you. I recently read a cool article, written by Gillian Girodat, in the November issue of *WILD*, the magazine for kids, published by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. It was all about handedness in the animal kingdom. As expected, most studies are not conclusive, either about handedness in humans (the *why* of it) or in any other species. But apparently, some animals seem to favour one side or the other. One of the theories mentioned was that, in primates, for example, the more primitive, less *evolved*, the primate, the more likely it is to be left-handed. (Hmmm, I'm not sure I like that theory!!!) Lemurs, for instance,showed a tendency to be left-handed while gorillas and chimps were seen to favour the right, especially in specific tasks such as fishing for termites, where they use a twig or plant stem as a tool.



It was also reported that 100% of the endangered glossy black cockatoos on Australia's Kangaroo Island, are all lefties, using their left feet to grasp and hold their food.



And --get this! -- you can even tell if your local squirrels are lefties or righties by examining the leftover pine cone stubs they leave in huge messes at the base of your trees (or MY trees!!!!) Apparently, the little rodent eats the cones blunt end up, scales pointing down. A cone with the stubs shorter on the left side, was demolished by a lefty. Whichever side has the shorter stubs is the side where he started chewing! (as if I care. I just wish he'd clean up!! )



Here's another interesting little sidebar. The article mentions that favouring the right side may go back as far as 500 million years!! Scientists say that in examining fossils of trilobites -- distant relatives of today's horseshoe crabs -- they found more scars on the right side of the exoskeleton than on the left. They explained this by saying that something --either the trilobite or its predator -- veered to one particular side over and over again.



Being the only leftie in my family for as far back as I can trace, I have always been interested in handedness. In my case, at least, genetics doesn't seem to have played a role. I often wondered about handedness in animals and if it's a learned habit (as in, when we *hand* our pets a treat and they become used to receiving it from a certain side) or if there is something in their genetics or hard-wiring, that causes this. With animal evolution, I always thought, though, that nothing happens without a reason. Survival of the fittest, and all. Wonder if we'll ever really know....



This article cited many, many more examples than I mentioned here and revealed some really funny and fascinating facts. This is a terrific magazine, by the way.Great articles, amazing photos. Their goal (stated at the beginning of every issue) is to "reveal the wonders of wildlife in Canada and lands beyond to young readers". They want to" inspire an appreciation of creatures great and small, of places near and far, and an understanding of the importance everyone plays in a healthy future." And lastly, they "hope to build a strong force of conservationists ready, willing and able to make a difference for wildlife, the environment and the world."



I applaud them!

Anne 07/05/05 05:08 pm How interesting. As I've already posted, I think Betty is left handed . Or at least she always seems to stand on her left leg.
Celeste 07/05/05 08:28 pm They say highly intelligent people are left-handed....Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed....

Celeste is a south paw!
Shelley 07/05/05 08:47 pm So am I !!! :-) Anyone else?
RonS 07/05/05 09:07 pm I'm a rightie but my oldest daughter, who is a leftie, claims that since the right side of the body is controlled by the left side of the brain, only left-handed people are in their right minds.
Lori 07/05/05 09:13 pm my daughter is a "leftie" too she is constantly reminding me that I am not in my "right "mind!! :-)
Shelley 07/05/05 10:08 pm Ron, I have that quote on a T-shirt. And it is accurate, ;-)
Marie 07/06/05 02:30 am I too have a daughter that is a Leftie...I am right handed and she is the only one in the family.Interesting that many of us here are conected in someway to a leftie...... ;-)
Tiger 07/06/05 05:28 am Marie we humans have two types of handedness and also a footedness.

I am right handed normally but if I pick up a bat I hold it left handed.

If I were to pick up a spade I am left footed.
RonS 07/06/05 08:38 am Tiger, why are you picking up spades with your feet??
Marie 07/06/05 09:12 am Ron.........your sense of humour is delightful........
You probably don't even know the meaning of an English spade..LOL.
It isn't one of the characters/suits in a deck of cards!
It is infact a sort of long handled shovel( large blade) for digging in the dirt( garden tool) so one naturally uses ones foot to help it dig deep into the soil.
Anyway, if you knew what Tiger meant I apologize but I just had a feeling......... ;-)
Shelley 07/06/05 09:41 am You guys are cracking me up!!! And we thought the osprey had some odd behaviours!!! ;-)
RonS 07/06/05 10:38 am Marie, I know we are two great nations separated by a common language (thanks to Mr. W. Churchill for that observation) but I really did "dig" the meaning of spade. ;-o
karen 07/06/05 11:32 am OHHHH Ron .....
Vicki in S. CA. 07/06/05 11:50 am Another left hander announced here. I have spent my life trying to stop the use of the terms sinister and gauche to my kind but no luck. Tiger, would that be a bat that flies at night or what? I don't think they play baseball in your part of the world.
Pam 07/06/05 11:59 am Cricket bat or table-tennis bat. We do have baseball but not as a national game. My father used to tell the tale of having his left hand strapped behind his back at school to make him write right-handed - didn't seem to do him any harm. I'm talking about the years c.1910-20 !
Anne 07/06/05 12:59 pm My mother used to be hit on the hand by a wooden ruler if she used her left hand at school. She ended up being able to use both hands.
Vicki in S. CA. 07/06/05 04:25 pm Lucky for me my mother was also left handed and at the first hint of a teacher trying to change me she marched down to the school and made that stop! Besides, we lefties have to deal with adversity all our lives and it makes us strong. Or obstinate, I'm not sure which.
Nancy L 07/06/05 05:29 pm My brother & granddaughter are lefties. I'm a rightie, but can play ping-pong with either hand!
Marie 07/06/05 08:01 pm LoL Ron.........
As Shelley says' YOU crack me up''
hope you smiled and not GROANED at my posting.
Tiger 07/06/05 08:24 pm This is just one of those threads!! :)

Lori 07/06/05 09:50 pm This reminds me of "dinner conversation" at my parents house.... when we all get together "strange" conversation is the standard norm!! To add to the mayhem; none of us hear too well.... you should hear some of the twists & turns in our topics. :-)

Copyright © 2006 DPOF

Tom Throwe
Last modified: Sat Feb 18, 2006