BC 3500000 c.1

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The Thumb Comes into Play

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: Eastern Africa
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Text

Ever try to throw a ball, even a non-breaking pitch, without using your thumb?

"The carpometacarpal joint of Australopithecus afarensis would have allowed he range of thumb movement necessary for both key grips used in baseball."

This extinct hominid (think Lucy), thought to be as close to Homo sapiens as any species then alive, lived in eastern Africa.  Their hands weren't yet adapted to throwing, but their thumbs had evolved in that general direction.

 

Sources

Richard W. Young, "Evolution of the human hand: the role of throwing and

clubbing,"Journal of Anatomy (2003), pp165–174. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1571064

Comment

Four of our metacarpal bones are aligned in the back of our hands. This fifth is between our wrist and or thumb knuckle. 

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Submitted by Joe Gray
Submission Note Email of April 1, 2014
Has Supplemental Text Yes



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Supplemental Text

This NIH paper continues, "by 3.2 million years ago. Australopithecus aferensis . . . "wrist extension comparable to humans would have aided throwing efficiency.  A styloid process on the third metacarpal, appearing for the first time, would have protected against hyperextension from throwing, and the capacity to rotate the second and fifth metacarpals during flexion would have improved the throwing grip."

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