Royal Society Publishing

Handedness frequency over more than ten thousand years

Charlotte Faurie, Michel Raymond


Although there are quite important geographical variations in the frequency of left–handers around the world, nothing is known about its temporal evolution. During the upper Palaeolithic (ca. 35 000–10 000 YBP), humans painted ‘negative hands’ by blowing pigments with a tube onto one hand applied on the rock in caves in Western Europe, by blowing pigments on their own hand through a tube held in the other hand. The frequency of left–handers prevailing during this period could thus be assessed. For comparison, the handedness of French university students has been observed for the same task. No difference was detected between the two proportions of left–handers, separated by more than 10 000 years. Implications for the evolution of the polymorphism of handedness are discussed.

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