Re: Knucklewalking

Alex Duncan (
27 Jun 1995 03:40:46 GMT

In article <3s79vj$> Phil Nicholls, writes:

> It is pretty much agreed that hominids never knuckle-walked based
>on the morphology of the bones of the hand (I can provide a detailed
>reference if you would like).

The issue of whether humans have knuckle-walking ancestors has
not been resolved to anyone's satisfaction. Here are a few points about
the issue:
1) The fact that no hominids show anatomy associated w/ knuckle-walking
DOES NOT demonstrate that they didn't have knuckle-walking ancestors
(though it does suggest that they - the earliest known hominids - did not
knuckle-walk). Too little is known about the development of anatomy
associated w/ knuckle-walking to determine how plastic it may be. Much
of the anatomy may be developmental rather than genetic.
2) There is one suggestive bit of anatomy. In humans, gorillas and
chimps the os centrale fuses (to the scaphoid, I think) at a very young
age. It has been suggested (but not conclusively demonstrated) that
fusion of these bones helps to stabilize the wrist in a knuckle-walking
posture, thus supporting the possibility that we have knuckle-walking

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086