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The Swamp Ape's Pad-to-Pad Precision Grip

5 May 2018, 03:38 UTC
The Swamp Ape's Pad-to-Pad Precision Grip
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by Marcel F. WilliamsSkull of Oreopithecus (Credit: After Szalay and Berzi, 1973)Primates, of course, are generally characterized by their grasping hands and feet. While the toes of human feet have lost their prehensile capability, the fingers of human hands have the most sophisticated manipulative ability of any primate. Humans are the only hominoid (humans and apes) primate capable of supplying the substantial force necessary for holding objects steadily and securely between the pads of the thumb and one or more fingers. This is called a pad-to-pad precision grip.Fossil evidence suggest that early hominins (humans and their ancestors) such as Australopithecus also possessed a pad-to-pad precision grip.In 1970, Clifford Jolly suggested that human manipulative capability may have paralleled those of the small object feeding gelada baboon (Theropithecus), a largely terrestrial East African primate that uses its pad-to-pad precision grip to feed on grasses and the seeds of grasses. Jolly suggested that such a folivorous diet in early hominin ancestors might also explain the reduction in hominin canine size. But in 1977, marine biologist, Alister Hardy proposed an alternative hypothesis for the origin of the human pad-to-pad precision grip. He hypothesized that the hominin precision grip was originally an adaptation for the ...

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