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A study says, precise human gripping skills evolved 500,000 years ago

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A study has found that a trove of prehistoric stone tools shows strong, precise gripping capabilities evolved in early humans at least 500,000 years ago.

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According to the researchers, without the ability to perform highly forceful precision grips, our ancestors would not have been able to produce advanced types of stone tool like spear points, etc

This research links a stone tool production technique known as ‘platform preparation’ to the biology of human hands for the first time.

The technique is all about preparing a striking area on a tool to remove specific stone flakes and shape the tool into a preconceived design.

It is said that the platform preparation helps for making many different types of advanced prehistoric stone tool. The earliest known occurrence were observed at the 500,000-year-old site of Boxgrove in West Sussex in UK.

The study by Alastair Key from University of Kent in UK examined how hands are used during the production of different types of early stone technology.

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Sensors attached to the hand of skilled flint knappers identified platform preparation behaviours that a hand requires to exert significantly more pressure through the fingers when compared to all other stone tool activities, says the study.

Demonstration derived out of research says that the Boxgrove hominins would have needed significantly stronger grips compared to earlier populations who did not perform this behaviour.

Further it suggests, until humans evolved the ability to perform particularly forceful grips, the highly modified and shaped stone tools, such as the handaxes discovered at Boxgrove and stone spear points found in later prehistory, would not have been possible to produce.

The discovery is significant because human hand bones rarely survive in fossil records.

Alastair Key told The Week, “Hand bones from before 300,000 years ago are rare, particularly when compared to other human fossils such as teeth, so the fact we can study the manipulative capabilities of our early ancestors from the stone tools they produced is incredibly exciting.”

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